Family Works

Speaking on music   

Rob Coombs ID. Min. Ph.D.
Posted 1/18/18

Jan. 21, 2018

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Family Works

Speaking on music   

Posted

Speaking on music   

I love music and am so grateful we live where free music concerts abound – Nightfall, River City Nights, Evening Shade, Riverbend, concerts at Southern Adventist and Lee universities. 

For the music connoisseur, there is a smorgasbord of music venues to satisfy virtually any taste.  Music, too, abounds in our home.  Rarely is our television on, but music is a daily experience.  Music brings such joy to life that I can scarcely conceive of a world without it.  I believe it is good for the soul and easily can become a roadmap for our lives, serving to remind of where we have been and where we are. 

It’s interesting that a particular song can draw us back into other time in our lives, sometimes decades earlier, and a particular relationship, a happy moment, or a particular struggle we faced.  Music can lift our spirits or reduce us to tears.  It has defined whole generations and motivated masses from complacency to action.  This is the power of music and like anything that posses power, it can be both constructive and destructive.

According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, frequent exposure to music that contains references to violence and substance use is significantly associated with illicit-drug use, problems with alcohol and aggressive behaviors in young people. 

A positive association was also found between listeners of reggae or techno and alcohol and illicit drug use.  Also, young people who listen to hip-hop and rap may be more likely to engage in substance abuse, aggression, marijuana, and club drugs.  Such realities should not come as a surprise. 

Teenagers are in the process of identity formation and any frequently repeated behavior has the potential of helping form their identity.  Researchers have found that the frequency of any alcohol use was positively and significant associated with frequent listening to heavy metal, alternative music, punk, rap, R&B, reggae, rock and techno. 

A word of caution is merited here.  Such studies on the effect of music may not take into account the type of person who chooses to listen to violent, drug-oriented, aggressive music.  This may be a classic chicken-and-egg argument.  Is it the music that draws them into this world or is it the kind of people who already in this world attracted to his kind of music?  It’s difficult to know.  Maybe a combination of both is most probable.

This, of course, begs the question as to whether or not parents should censor the music of their teenagers.  In today’s world, this may not even be realistic.  Entree to all kinds of music is so easily assessable and concealed that attempts to restrict what a teenagers listens to may prove futile. 

A better alternative is to maintain open and honest lines of communication.  Discuss the lyrics (although many teenagers claimed that don’t ever listen to the lyrics) and implications of the messages they are hearing.  Encourage them to understand the potential risks in a steady diet of this type of music.  Help to believe and accept their vulnerabilities.

Rob Coombs is a professor with a doctor of ministry degree and a doctor of philosophy with an emphasis in Family Systems.

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