“FYI: For Your Info,” New Era, Aug. 1991, 40–43
For Your Info
What can’t walk, but is with us almost everywhere we go; can’t touch us, but can lift us up or bring us down; can’t move us, but often guides our actions? Time’s up. The answer is music. It may seem harmless, but it can affect us in ways we can and can’t control. Would you like to know how? Read on.
by Christie Giles
Face the Music
To find out how your music is affecting you emotionally and spiritually, try putting it to the test:
Try Mormon’s method. Listen to some of your favorite songs and write down the lyrics. Then turn off the music and read through them. If they invite you to do good, they’re probably okay. If they suggest that you violate the standards of the Church, it might be time to clean out your music collection (see Moro. 7:16–17).
Don’t say, “But I don’t listen to the lyrics.” Research shows that the human brain automatically picks up almost any message within sight or sound. Lyrics set to music can be especially influencing because they sneak past the screening mechanism of the brain and can be stored in the subconscious without your knowledge.
Ask what the performer represents. We sometimes imitate the groups we listen to. Think about the name, album covers, videos, stage reputation, costumes, and publicized attitudes of your favorite group. Are you impressed with what they stand for?
Ask yourself if you’re ever embarrassed by the music. The beat may be great and even harmless, but if there’s anything about the music that makes you uncomfortable listening to it with anyone else around—like your seminary teacher, your mom, etc.—it might be time to change your tune.
Define how you feel. Life is a series of emotional ups and downs, so it’s normal to feel a little blue now and then. But music that constantly makes you feel depressed, frustrated, angry, or stressed isn’t healthy. Choose music that clears your mind, relieves stress, and cheers you up.
Changing Your Tune
If you’ve decided it’s time to set a new standard for your music, here are some tips to make the transition easier.
Hang onto high quality. “Why not go through your collection? Get rid of the worst of it. Keep just the best. Be selective in what you consume and what you produce. It becomes a part of you,” said Elder Boyd K. Packer (Ensign, Jan. 1974, p. 27).
Don’t lighten up. Once you’ve set your standards, don’t tolerate even small doses of conflicting music. President Spencer W. Kimball said, “It is obvious that to remain clean and worthy, one must stay positively and conclusively away from the devil’s territory” (Miracle of Forgiveness, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969, p. 232).
Talk about music with your parents. If your parents worry about the music you listen to, set their minds at ease by talking about your musical standards. Ask them how they evaluate the music they listen to and try to agree on some mutual standards. Listen to their music too.
Cultivate the Spirit. Now that you’ve eliminated the bad, fill your collection with the good. Cultivate the Spirit by reading the scriptures and praying. Then listen to music that adds to that spirit.
Widen your options. If you can’t find good music in the style you usually listen to, try something new. You can find good music in everything from jazz to reggae to classical, and a variety makes your musical taste more interesting.
Remember that blessings come from choosing appropriate music. In a revelation directed to Emma Smith, the Lord said, “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads” (D&C 25:12).
After a concert you hear a ringing in your ears and you have trouble hearing quiet sounds. It’s nothing to worry about, right? Wrong. You could be losing your hearing.
Noise above 100 decibels flattens the tiny hairs in the inner ear that transmit sound to the nerves. These hairs usually return to normal, but repeated exposure to loud music can flatten them permanently. Since these hairs don’t have any pain cells, the ringing and temporary deafness are your only warnings.
Rock concerts usually emit a dangerous 120 decibels, but stereo headphones are even worse. They’ve been compared to putting the nozzle of a fire hose down the ear canal and blasting away.
The easiest way to avoid the perils of pounding music at home is to turn the music down. Earplugs are good for concerts. And don’t forget to have your hearing checked every now and then.
Las Vegas Leaders
The student body officers at Cashman Junior High last year were all from the Las Vegas Lakes Stake. They were (l–r) Jennifer Fabbi, Potosi Ward; Dana Wood, Palmyra Ward; Travis Howey, Monte Cristo Ward; Kim Howey, Monte Cristo Ward; and January McCoy, Palmyra Ward.
Jeff Does It Again
Last year we told you about Jeff Vines of Arkansas, who was the youngest-ever national champion pigeon breeder (see “What Jeff Knows,” May 1990).
Now he’s scored a repeat victory at the national meet in Pomona, California.
Jeff’s the only person ever to win more than one championship with his particular breed, the West of England Tumbler.
Also, when we last wrote about Jeff, he had failed to make his junior high basketball team but was going to keep trying. Now he’s playing on three teams, including the school team. Way to hang in there, Jeff!
What more natural spot for a youth activity than a place called Mormon Island? For LDS youth in Grand Island, Nebraska, it’s a favorite for everything from picnicking and wild games of water volleyball to quiet contemplation of Church history.
On this outing, youth from the Grand Island First and Second branches leave the park, heading to a grassy spot said to hold the graves of a pioneer mother and several of her children. There, the guide explains what he knows about this spot, there are a few moments of quiet thought, and then it’s back across the river to homes just a few miles away.
Maybe the first pioneers left little behind, but these LDS youth are making a more permanent mark. In this area, Church history and state history overlap, and the Mormon exodus is talked about in school all the time. There are plenty of opportunities to set the story straight.
A Real Morning Person
“Early-morning seminary is a great way to start your days and to have that special spirit with you,” says Ranee Harmon, a member of the Spartanburg First Ward, Greenville South Carolina Stake. Renee graduated from four years of early-morning seminary with perfect attendance before she headed for Birmingham, England, as an exchange student.
Getting up early didn’t hurt Ranee’s school career. She got good grades, played varsity basketball, and participated in a number of other activities.
It’s been six years now since Andrew Fisher of Stourbridge Ward, Birmingham Stake, England, began reading the scriptures consistently, and would you believe he hasn’t missed a day since?
Even when he’s away from home, if Andrew doesn’t have his own scriptures, he’ll ask to borrow some.
It’s not surprising that Andrew, 16, is the Stourbridge Ward’s seminary class president. He’s also a cyclist, karate enthusiast, and swimmer.
Playing Off a Scrooge
Francesca Hindley, a 13-year-old from Southport Ward, Liverpool Stake, England, knows how to handle a Scrooge. She played his fiancée in her high school’s major Christmas production.
Music is a big part of Francesca’s life. She’s been taking piano for four years from a concert pianist and has participated in the Southport Music Festival, one of England’s most famous. But she’s also interested in foreign languages, gardening, and karate.
Into the Inner City
This old house didn’t look so old anymore once the youth of the Milwaukee Wisconsin Stake finished with it. As a matter of fact, the youth renovated three unkempt and vandalized homes in Milwaukee’s inner city as part of what some say was the best youth conference ever.
“I found out that the Golden Rule really was enforced there,” said Synthia Ridenour, 16. “You slap somebody with paint, and you get it back.” But she and about 150 of her friends learned much more than that. When Synthia accidentally came across the family members who lived in the house saying prayers of thanks, she knew why she was there.
“I know from this project that service brings great happiness,” said Eric Wagner, 16, in the testimony meeting that was held at the end of the weekend-long conference. There had been dances, workshops, and a barbecue, but everyone agreed that the best part was re-doing the houses, and helping the families who lived inside.
Shana Canada, a Beehive in the Titusville Ward, Cocoa Florida Stake, took action when the ducks near her home were being hit by passing cars. She headed straight for city hall and requested that a “duck crossing” sign be placed near their pond.
The city council members were so impressed with her concern for the ducks’ safety that they placed signs to warn motorists of the web-footed pedestrians.
When Shana is not out lobbying, she can usually be found working to make the grade at school so she can reach her goal to become a veterinarian.