“Questions and Answers,” Ensign, Dec. 2002, 50–51
We are taught to use careful judgment in choosing the music we listen to. As a parent or leader of youth, how can I ensure that the music played at home or a Church dance is appropriate without offending someone?
I often think of my mother and how she influenced me in developing a love for good music. For quite some time she was a ward chorister and would practice singing the hymns while she went about her household chores. What a blessing this was to me because I constantly heard her singing songs of praise.—Dean Steele, Boise Ninth Ward, Boise Idaho Stake
When our oldest child began to be interested in questionable music, my husband and I felt we shouldn’t be subjected to her choices, so we initially confined her music to her own ears or her room. But it soon dawned on us that our daughter could still hear it, and the music was not conducive to the presence of the Holy Ghost in our home. We decided to play uplifting music for all the family to enjoy so that we could become the major music influence in our children’s lives. The change didn’t happen overnight or without struggles, but our children have come to respect the idea that our house is holy ground. Just as smoking, alcohol, and swearing are not allowed because they chase away the Holy Ghost, so also is inappropriate music not allowed.—Rose V. Voigt, Preston Branch, Rochester Minnesota Stake
Our 14-year-old son loved the pulsating rhythms of rock music. He turned it on when he was getting ready for school, when we traveled in the car, and the instant he arrived home from school. Though we had a family collection of uplifting recordings, unless I got to the stereo first, his music invaded our home. We had some family discussions, but our son’s ears seemed closed. Then one summer we attended a Church musical production. Our son loved one of its songs, so we purchased it for him. He listened to it all the time. Not long after, we found the objectionable recordings in the trash!—Betty Jan Murphy, Pine Ward, Payson Arizona Stake
My oldest son brought home a CD of a few songs a school friend had made for him of a popular music group. His younger brother reported that some of the words on the CD might be bad. As my husband and I listened to the music and discussed the songs with our sons, we agreed that this music was not an appropriate choice. We emphasized the guidelines set forth in For the Strength of Youth. We encourage our children not to rely on others’ opinions and preferences but to assess whether the music is appropriate based on the Lord’s standards given to us through latter-day prophets.—Lisa Whitsitt, Whitby Ward, Oshawa Ontario Canada Stake
When the missionaries began teaching me, I knew I was going to have to make some major changes in my life. One area was my music collection. I remember Elder Sutton looking through it to see what I owned. I knew my old behaviors in music no longer fit what I was learning about the Savior and His Church. It was either the gospel or my selfish desires. One day I scooped up my collection and got rid of it. I moved one step closer toward that sweet peace found in the Atonement of Jesus Christ.—Kevin Mesch, Market Street Branch, Beaverton Oregon Stake
Three years ago we formed a stake youth dance music committee. There are two youth from each unit on the committee with youth cochairs. They meet one hour prior to each dance and preview the music. It has been a tremendous help, and the youth are so good to cut out the “trashy” music. Some adults thought that many youth would not come to the dances if they could not play anything they wanted. The opposite happened. We have large crowds, and in the schools our youth are being asked, “When is the next Mormon dance?”—Barbara L. Brown, Yuma First Ward, Yuma Arizona Stake
We know that when youth and adults work together and communicate, dances can be enjoyable for all. Everyone shares in the responsibility for the appropriateness of the music. However, whenever there is a difference of opinion, the stake leader assigned to oversee that dance makes the final decision. Music is played from a list of songs approved by the Stake Youth Activity Committee. We avoid using edited versions of songs because playing them reminds us of the ugly words taken out. If someone wants a song added to the list, that person is encouraged to write his or her name, the song title, and the artist on a piece of paper and hand it to a stake youth or adult leader. The song is reviewed before the next dance, and if it is not added to the list, an explanation is given to the person who requested it. All songs on the list and a copy of the list are available at each dance. We also like to watch when songs are played to see which ones youth dance to. If few people dance to a song, we consider removing it from the list, because we prefer a dance, not a “stand around and listen.” Music should bring joy, so we try not to make it a battleground.—Carol Bowes, Roxboro Branch, Durham North Carolina Stake
This past summer at girls’ camp, the young women of each ward were asked to choose a song to perform with karaoke. The performances went off well; however, some leaders questioned the suitability of several of the songs. So in a follow-up lesson we had the young women read and discuss the thirteenth article of faith. Then we talked about each of the karaoke songs. Without any promptings from leaders, the girls found several songs to be inappropriate, the same songs leaders had questioned.—Shauna Wheelwright, Union Park Fourth Ward, Midvale Utah Union Park Stake
Organizing dances around a theme, such as the ’50s or ’60s, is an effective way to narrow the type of music played.—Tamara Woolley, Tokyo Third Ward, Tokyo Japan South Stake
A rule that has worked well for us is to judge a song on its own merits. Although some types of music seem to have a greater percentage of songs with inappropriate lyrics, I always try to play good songs from many different genres, even if I don’t personally care for them. I also intersperse dance classics with modern songs, and the youth dance right along with the adult chaperones.—Chris Ishoy, New City Ward, Caldwell New Jersey Stake
Most youth in the Church do not seek out immoral and offensive music; they simply like familiar tunes. It is, therefore, incumbent upon the adults in their lives, who have broader experience, to lovingly monitor their exposure to offensive music. By being good examples of wise music selection, demonstrating love and concern, and exercising common sense, adults can help youth make better choices until they are mature enough to discern appropriate music for themselves.—Michelle Piercy, Chambersburg Second Ward, York Pennsylvania Stake
“In dances for youth and adults, dress, grooming, lighting, dancing styles, lyrics, and music should contribute to an atmosphere where the Spirit of the Lord can be present. Those who oversee dance activities should pay strict attention to the following policies.
“The Performance Contract form should be used when hiring a band, orchestra, or disc jockey. … Leaders hold auditions and make firm, clear agreements in writing that commit the persons who provide music to follow Church standards. …
“The beat of the music, whether instrumental or vocal, should not overshadow the melody. Music volume should be low enough so two people standing side by side can hear each other as they carry on normal conversation” (Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2: Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders , 277).