Music to Connect

Music is a shared experience that transcends economic, social and racial barriers. Music has a way to capture and release memories; process feelings and allow us to express ourselves. With my amateur guitar skills and interest from the guys in Crisis Program, we had our own Covenant House Music Group.

In the first week of music group, the guys quietly sang lyrics from The Beatles and Coldplay, nervously singing, worried about looking stupid. But each week the guys began to ease up more and more, no longer worried about what others think, but reminding new joiner’s that music group is a safe, non-judgmental space. No matter how out of key, no matter how you sound, it’s a welcome space.

Russ, one of the regulars in music group, expressed that he was having a particularly hard week and really needed to sing it out—He found out that one of his friends had passed away. Russ requested to sing Leonard Cohen’s iconic “Hallelujah”.

What a sight to see – guys from different backgrounds and different struggles, not only singing—but belting out “Hallelujah”. If a stranger walked in, it might not have sounded the sweetest, but it was full of heart. After we sang, Russ simply said, “That was what I needed. Let’s sing another song”.

Sometimes it is challenging for the guys to open up and talk about what’s happening in their lives, but music allows them to express and communicate without strings attached. No judgement, no pressures of being right or wrong, but the chance to sing. I am always amazed at how music can bring people together from different experiences and connect us together.