Here is the outline and all that I had prepared for my presentation to the young men at Camp Helaman. I was way over prepared and only ended up doing about 1/3 of all of this (skipping around lots) but it went well (I think) and the boys participated in the discussion which was a big plus. You’ll see many of the suggestions and studies offered by readers of this blog. THANK YOU for all of your help!
Object Lesson: Ice Cream with Dried Shrimp Heads in them
I prepared about 5 ice cream cones with dried shrimp heads inside and mixed them up with regular cones to pass out to the young men. We had just eaten dinner and they hadn’t been served dessert so this was perfect as they all wanted some! As the ice cream was passed around I held up this Mormonad:
and asked if any of them had ever seen it. Immediately most stopped eating their cones and held them away from their bodies. I told them they had a 1 in 5 chance of getting something edible but unappetizing in their cones. It was very interesting to watch the different reactions. Some replied with, “I like those odds,” and started eating their cones with gusto. Others took their cones apart first looking for any bad stuff. The rest waited until all the cones with shrimp heads were found before they began eating theirs which they knew were safe. We discussed how this applies to music. We also discussed what their reactions to knowing something bad was in their ice cream showed and how that could also be applied to how they go about choosing good music. It was a really good discussion.
Now on to the rest of the outline without any commentary (for the most part) on what we discussed or even covered because frankly, I can’t remember what order I went in or exactly what was said. ☺ Remember only about 1/3 of this was actually used. There just wasn’t enough time! I can’t believe I’m saying that as I was complaining that 45 minutes would be way too much time.
What are some reasons why we listen to music? (these answers were from the Young Men)
- we are sad and want to feel better
- we need something to pump us up
- to sing slong
- so we can dance
Looking at these reasons does that mean that music has a physical affect on us?
- Share mice experiment with classical music vs. heavy metal. In discussing the behavior of the heavy metal mice share the following story from my sister-in-law. When she was in high school she had a friend that began changing his behavior. He became depressed, talked of suicide, and was just down all the time. She figured out it had a lot to do with the music he was listening to. She was able to convince him to give her all his music tapes and CDs for one week to see if anything changed. By the end of that first week he had improved a great deal.
- talk about the water crystals of Masaru Emoto. Play samples of the music Mr. Emoto played.
What are the elements that make music? (again answers from the boys)
Aren’t these the same things people say makes music bad? What is the difference? (good feedback from the boys on HOW those elements are put together as well as WHAT PURPOSE the piece of music has)
Play the following ‘good’ samples for these elements mentioned, discuss the intent of the music.
- volume: Verdi: Requiem Mass, Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet, Stravinsky’s Firebird
- beat/tempo: Kashmir by William Joseph, Beautiful Life
- instrumentation: Sabre Dance conducted by Fiedler, Fireworks by Nicholas Hooper (Harry Potter soundtrack)
Discuss the mood music creates. Play Be Still my Soul by Mindy Gledhill vs. Be Still My Soul by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Because of the way the instrumentation and beat are used they create different moods or feelings even though the words are exactly the same.
Where the music is played also has an effect. For instance restaurants help create romantic settings by playing music with violins, slow tempo, etc. The same music can be played in an elevator but isn’t considered romantic because of the setting.
Knowing the intent of the music or musician can have a big influence on what we listen to. Read the following excerpt from Elder Gene R. Cook’s 1989 Ricks College devotional.
“After we visited back and forth a minute or two about what we were doing and all, I finally said something like, “You know, Mick, I have a question for you that I’d like you to answer for me.” He said, “Well, I’ll be glad to try.” Then I said to him, “I have opportunity to be with young people in many different places around the world, and some of them have told me that the kind of music you and others like you sing has no effect on them, that it’s okay, and that it doesn’t affect them adversely in any way. Then other young people have told me very honestly that your kind of music has a real effect on them for evil and that it affects them in a very bad way. You’ve been in this business for a long time, Mick. I’d like to know your opinion. What do you think is the impact of your music on the young people?”
This is a direct quote, brothers and sisters. He said, “Our music is calculated to drive the kids to sex.” Those were his exact words. I’m sure I had a real look of shock on my face in receiving such a bold response. He quickly added, “Well, it’s not my fault what they do. That’s up to them. I’m just making a lot of money.”
Then he told me he’d been in Mexico making a video because he could make it for about one-third of what it would cost in the United States. He told me this was a great day for them because now instead of just having audio where they could portray some of what they wanted to about sex and all, they now had videos and could have the people both hear it and see it portrayed. He said this would have much more impact on the youth, that his music was selling much more, and thus he was making much more money.”
Discuss how even if the lyrics seem to be good if the video, which shows the artists interpretation of their music, is bad then that song should not be part of our music library.
“Because entertainers are constantly before the public eye, they exert a great influence on society. Some exert a better influence than others. There is a point, however, where Latter-day Saints in good conscience cannot support the works of certain performers. When we patronize the music of individuals who openly advocate evil, we contribute to the success of their careers and their ability to influence others. We literally supply the financial backing for Satan’s work.” (Lex de Azevedo, What About Pop Music?)
How does music affect us for good?
“Worthy music is powerful. It has the power to make us humble, prayerful, and grateful. . .Music has a sweet power to promote unity and love in the family. . .Music has power to provide spiritual nourishment. It has healing power. It has the power to facilitate worship, allowing us to contemplate the Atonement and the Restoration of the gospel, with its saving principles and exalting ordinances. It provides power for us to express prayerful thoughts and bear testimony of sacred truths.
Worthy music is not only a source of power but also of protection. For many years President Boyd K. Packer, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has taught this concept. He has often quoted a statement issued by the First Presidency many years ago: “Music can be used to exalt and inspire or to carry messages of degradation and destruction. It is therefore important that as Latter-day Saints we at all times apply the principles of the gospel and seek the guidance of the Spirit in selecting the music with which we surround ourselves.”(Elder Russell M. Nelson, The Power and Protection of Worthy Music)
What did Pres. Boyd K. Packer say are the two yardsticks to use in selecting good music?
- apply the principles of the gospel
- seek the guidance of the Spirit
How can you use music in your own life to uplift and inspire?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 136:28 “If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.”
“An Old Testament scripture bids us to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise” (Psalm 98:4). In the Hebrew language, the meaning of this verse is to literally burst forth into song and to shout for joy. Contrast that spirit of enthusiasm with scenes we may see at church when some sing only passively and without a spirit of joy.” (Elder Nelson)
Sing in church! I know boys. They stop singing about age 10 in Primary. Memorize the Sacrament hymns so you can sing while preparing the Sacrament.
“The Book of Mormon teaches that one’s desire to sing praises to the Lord comes with one’s complete conversion to Him. Alma asked this penetrating question: “I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:26).
Complete conversion is the key to our experiencing God’s greatest blessings. In the Doctrine and Covenants, we read this expression from the Lord: “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).” (Elder Nelson)
Who doesn’t want a blessing? One easy way to obtain blessings from God is to sing. If you truly want that blessing you will do all in your power to obtain it! What was the scripture mastery you learned this year? Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21 “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated— And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” Sing in church!
MUSIC – When we speak of music that builds and uplifts does it always have to be classical or instrumental or hymns?
“Young people, you cannot afford to fill your minds with the unworthy music of our day. It is not harmless. It can welcome onto the stage of your mind unworthy thoughts and set a tempo to which they dance and to which you may act. You degrade yourself when you identify with those things that at times surround extremes in music—the shabbiness, the irreverence, the immorality, the addictions. Such music is not worthy of you.
“Be selective in what you listen to and produce. It becomes part of you. It controls your thoughts and influences the lives of others as well. I would recommend that you go through your music and throw away that which promotes degrading thoughts. Such music ought not to belong to young people concerned with spiritual development.
“I don’t mean by this that all of today’s music produces unworthy thoughts. There is music today that builds understanding of people; music that inspires courage; music that awakens feelings of spirituality, reverence, happiness, and awareness of beauty.” (Pres. Boyd K. Packer, Worthy Music, Worthy Thoughts)
“It’s not always easy to change musical habits. But if a certain form of music is hampering our spiritual health and development, in whatever subtle and quiet way, it must be given up in favor of music that will build spiritual strength. That doesn’t mean we must give up all popular music. But we must be willing to seriously control our listening—and shun the groups, songs, and music that are spiritually harmful.
“Music is such an important—and powerful—part of our lives that we should consider our listening habits thoughtfully and prayerfully. If we remember our eternal goals, we will seek out music that will help us, rather than hinder us.” (Lex de Azevedo, A Closer Look at Popular Music)
“When some music has passed the tests of time and been cherished by the noble and refined, our failure to appreciate it is not an indictment of grand music. The omission is within. If a young person grows up on a steady diet of hamburgers and french fries, he is not likely to become a gourmet. But the fault is not with fine food. He just grew up on something less. Some have grown up on a steady diet of musical french fries.
“Elder Neal A. Maxwell said: We . . . live in a world that is too prone to the tasteless, and we need to provide an opportunity to cultivate a taste for the finest music. And, likewise, we’re in a world that’s so attuned to the now that we need to permit people to be more attuned to the best music of all the ages.”
“This would be a good time to sift through your music library and choose primarily that which uplifts and inspires. It is part of the maturing process of your eternal journey. This would also be a fine time to learn a musical instrument or improve musical skills now partially possessed.” (Elder Douglas L. Callister, Your Refined Heavenly Home)
“Pop music is only a small part of the world’s musical heritage. Cultivate your musical taste; enlarge your musical experience. Once having appreciated the world’s great music, you’ll probably find a steady diet of rock-’n’-roll rather dull.” (Lex de Azevedo, What About Pop Music?)
Play samples of other types of music:
- White Cliffs of Dover by Vera Lynn. Elder Quentin L. Cook spoke of a CD his wife gave him for Christmas.
- 1944 Stomp by Don Byas (Savoy Jam Sessions) an example of jazz. Elder Scott enjoys jazz music.
- “Sincere” from the musical The Music Man, one of President Thomas S. Monson’s favorite musicals (he enjoys many)
- Foggy Mountain Breakdown by Flatt & Scruggs – bluegrass
- Montserrat (☺) by Armik – Spanish guitar
- The Witnesses part of an oratorio by Rob Gardner
- Irish Jigs by Steve Hall & Eric Rigler, Celtic Heart
Has there been a time when music has touched you deeply? (Boys shared some experiences)
- President Hinckley, as a deacon, attended a stake priesthood meeting with his father. They sang “Praise to the Man” Later he would say, “I had an impression that has never left that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet of God.”
- The Lord Himself was prepared for His greatest test through the influence of music, for the scripture records, “And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives” (Mark 14:26)
- The Prophet Joseph Smith asked John Taylor to sing while they were in Carthage Jail to provide solace to those inside.
Passed out the handout, Using Music to Build Spirituality, folds up to fit in their pockets (Cut off paper at line at the bottom and also 1/4 inch off the right side of the paper. Follow instructions here to fold). Briefly went through it.
“The nearer we get to God, the more easily our spirits are touched by refined and beautiful things. If we could part the veil and observe our heavenly home, we would be impressed with the cultivated minds and hearts of those who so happily live there. I imagine that our heavenly parents are exquisitely refined. In this great gospel of emulation, one of the purposes of our earthly probation is to become like them in every conceivable way so that we may be comfortable in the presence of heavenly parentage and, in the language of Enos, see their faces “with pleasure.”
“If we could peek behind the heavenly veil we would likely be inspired by the music of heaven, perhaps more glorious than any music we have heard on this earth.” (Elder Douglas L. Callister, Your Refined Heavenly Home)
Ended by sharing my own personal experience with music and gaining my testimony of the gospel through the hymn “I Stand All Amazed.”
Those who received the shrimp heads in their ice cream got their own copy of Joseph Smith the Prophet an oratorio by Rob Gardner to start in expanding their musical repertoire.
Edited: I forgot to add a few experiences that were shared but can’t remember exactly where in the discussion they were told so I am telling them here.
We talked about how being constantly exposed to certain music can make us desensitized to what is being played or the lyrics being said. I shared the following experience.
One day on the way to town we listened to the Joseph Smith oratorio. My two younger daughters were with me because they had earned money to go to the dollar store. We were only in the store for 2 minutes when the 8 year old asked if we could leave. I was surprised as they had been so excited to come but hadn’t had time to look at anything yet. Her reason was the music being played was making her feel sick inside! I was so glad she had felt that difference but at the same time very disappointed in myself that I had not. It was music that I had grown up with and just didn’t even notice the terrible lyrics until my daughter pointed it out. I had become desensitized to it.
When we spoke about the videos artists and musicians produce to show their intent of a song one artist in particular was brought up, Katy Perry and her song “Firework.” The lyrics in and of themselves are fine but when you see the video and apply gospel standards to it like Pres. Packer said, the song becomes awful! There are girls in bikinis (immodesty), for a split second you see a Nazi swastika created by the youth dancing, and the worst – two teenage boys kissing (gay pride). All definitely against gospel standards.
Another great point brought up was the fact that when you download songs to listen to on your ipod, the default option is to show the album cover. In the example of Firework, you get a half naked Katy Perry laying on a cloud. She has the same cover for her “explicit” version of the album as she does for her “clean” version. Now there is pornography on your ipod! This was a great point to make and discussion to have, especially with the teenage boys.