March 1 CORE Circle: Common Sounds

by Samantha Sinai

In a world that seems to be becoming polarized, I believe music can bring us together. Music reminds us of the truth of our connections and naturally leads us to find common ground.

Lately, it has felt to me that our country is stuck inside of an optical illusion. And our party lines dictate what we see. What I believe is at the heart of a lot of our collective tension is the way that we vilify those who see the world in a different way.

What do you see in this picture?

Drawing by William Ely Hill

Do you see a young woman with her head turned away or an older woman’s profile? Or is there something else that you see? Imagine that a friend or family member saw what you did not see. Take a moment to notice anything that comes up as you imagine this friend or family member’s different perspective.

It is likely much easier to accept others for what they see in this picture than it is to see the humanity in those who have a different opinion on a matter that is deeply important to us. Our political differences have many of us questioning how someone could possibly see the world so differently. I believe that our differences don’t polarize us- our reaction to our differences do.  And that is where intentional gatherings and music can come in.

As a music therapist at the American Family Children’s Hospital here in Madison, WI, I have seen time and time again the power of music to create major shifts. From the school aged child who went from screaming in pain to rapping his favorite song within moments to the mother who shared that playing guitar got her through the toughest time in her life, it becomes clear that music can change us. So if music can be so potent, why not use it intentionally to ease some of the tension in today’s political climate?

My heart is full of gratitude to be a part of an exciting collaboration with Barbara Dunn, PhD, LICSW, MT-BC called Common Sounds. We have created a process by which we intentionally use music and conversation to bring together two groups of people who may have differences ideologically, spiritually, or politically.  The work draws upon Music Therapy and Conflict Transformation- specifically Barbara’s research in how music can support us in transforming conflict.

In these gatherings, we are NOT looking to change anyone’s mind about the issues that are important to them. Rather, we are creating space for folks to be with others who hold a different point of view in a way that sheds light on the humanity in us all.

Please join us for a CORE circle on Friday, March 1st from 9:30-11:30 am at the Madison Central Library (201 West Mifflin, room 302). I will be facilitating an experience for participants based on the process utilized in Common Sounds’ gatherings. There will be opportunities to listen to music, make music with the group if you choose, and engage in meaningful discussions. I hope to see you there!

For more information about Common Sounds:

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