Atmosphere of Peace: Music
I may get in trouble for this one, but I'm going to take the plunge anyway. As "keepers or guardians of our homes" (Titus 2:5), we bear the weighty responsibility of creating the atmosphere or tone of our homes. One of the ways we can set the tone in our homes is through music. One of my daughters faithfully puts 5 CDs (yes, those nearly antiquated discs) into our CD player every morning. It's amazing the atmosphere that creates in our home. People who have come over for dinner or other occasions have commented on it. One woman asked if she could borrow some of the CDs we listen to so she could explore which ones she wanted to buy. She wanted to recreate that same uplifting ambience in her home.
I've tried to pay attention to music—the feel of it, the force of it. Music is a language all its own that speaks and moves us, and it has a powerful voice. As "workers at home," as the ones who create the atmosphere, we want to set a tone of peace. Fill your home with music that is peaceful. I'm not just talking about music that has Christian words. If you play music with words, listen to the background noise, the accompaniment: Is it peaceful or is it cacophonous? Background cacophony carries an underlying agitation to the aura in your home, which is passed on to the people in your household. Listen with discernment; ask God for His wisdom and thoughts on this.
There are times when a Beethoven CD has been put in the rotation. After a few minutes, I've had get up and forward to the next CD. Now, I'm not down on Beethoven; he was obviously masterful at his craft and a true genius. But he can be so DEMANDING! Sometimes I feel like he reaches out from our speakers, grabs me by the collar, gets in my face, and yells, "LISTEN to ME!!" There is definitely a time and place for that; but if I've got other things on the docket for the day that I have to get done, requiring my mental energy and concentration, I can't let Beethoven—or any other musician—derail me.
There's a fancy word for time-and-place appropriateness; I learned it at a music conference we attended several years ago. It's called teleology. Wikipedia defines it this way: a reason or explanation for something in function of its end, purpose, or goal. Webster dictionary on the web uses these definitions: the study of evidences of design in nature; the fact or character attributed to nature or natural processes of being directed toward an end or shaped by a purpose; the use of design or purpose as an explanation of natural phenomena. Simply put, I like to think of teleology like this: the study of the purpose for which something is made, or the study of appropriateness. Music has different purposes; it is designed for different occasions. You wouldn't play a rousing Sousa band march like "Stars and Stripes" for a funeral, for example; it's teleologically out of place. And you can't dance a jig to the saddest, slowest, most mournful funeral dirge. Teleology: what's appropriate in the moment.
To set the underlying tone for our homes, we want music that lends itself to peace, music that lifts up the soul and helps to tone down chaos and build up order. Much has been written about the effects of music on the brain, both the sociological-relational effects and the individual-rational effects. Different types of music either enhance neurological order and connectedness or destroy it, but that is a discussion for another time and place. For the atmosphere of our homes, we should use music that encourages both the relational and the individual aspects, seeking to produce an atmosphere of peace, order, contentment, and joy.
Here are a few classical suggestions to get you started: Bach, Vivaldi, Purcell, Telemann, Handel, Mozart, Brahms, Mendelssohn. Of course, there are a host of other classical composers from all eras up through the current, modern day; and most all composers (even Beethoven!), have some compositions that fit the category of music we're describing here—peaceful home atmosphere—and other compositions that don't. (Exposing your children to a wide range of music, both styles and composers, is a subject for a to-be-written-someday homeschool blog!)
Bear in mind that we are talking about music that lends itself to uplifting the soul, to setting our minds on things above and letting the peace of Christ filter down into our homes. Well-written music by its very nature has the ability to cause our hearts to yearn for something higher and beyond ourselves; it carries us "into realms unknown" and causes the wings of our souls to soar on the currents of heavenly winds.
Besides the composers mentioned above, here are a couple Christian instrumental music suggestions:
Classical Praise (there is a set of 6-8 of these)
Jan Mulder (any and all of his: absolutely gorgeous!)