An Antidote for Gun Violence: Choral Singing

There are lots of good thoughts circulating lately about loneliness in our society–particularly among our children, and particularly in our boys. Many of us are noticing that lonely boys with arrested emotional development are often the perpetrators of violent acts that splatter across our news feeds every week. So, what’s the next step?

Find some ways to effectively, practically combat that loneliness.

Here’s my first suggestion: support the arts.

children's choir clip art

Source: https://www.clipartpig.com/download/wBK8FVO

Arts are ALL ABOUT emotional development and expression. Teach a kid art, and you give him a tool to communicate deep truth about himself that doesn’t require words. For kids who have not been provided with the verbal toolkit to “feel and deal,” as the Yerkoviches would say, and are too old to respect the suggestion that developing a toolkit would be a good idea–art is a safe outlet. It could be the escape hatch they desperately need to channel their emotions into something constructive and away from harm.

Secondly, collaborative arts, like choral singing, could actually provide a long-term fix to the loneliness epidemic. Read this excerpt from an article detailing the benefits of singing in a choir:

“People who sing in a group report far higher well-being than those who sing solo,” [Pink] notes. It’s about synchronizing with others.

What can explain this? According to Pink, it’s due to the sense of belonging that synchronizing with others brings.

He cites the work of Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary, social psychologists who came up with the “belongingness hypothesis” in 1995, and claimed that the “need to belong is a fundamental human motivation… and that much of what human beings do is done in the service of belongingness.”

That last paragraph should give us a real lightbulb moment. If a kid doesn’t feel like he belongs, how can we expect him not to lash out? When that disassociation is severe enough, the results are going to be drastic, as we are shown time and time again. Another excerpt:

Emily Esfahani Smith, a psychology instructor at the University of Pennsylvania, furthered this point in a TED Talk last year, as CNBC Make It reported. “Meaning comes from belonging to and serving something beyond yourself and from developing the best within you,” she said.

She recommends forming “relationships where you’re valued for who you are intrinsically and where you value others as well.”

If a child is unable to form such relationships naturally, putting him in a context of non-verbal collaboration that focuses on creating something beautiful could provide an intense sense of worth, value, and belonging like little else. To physically experience his effort contributing to something he and others admire–which is MUCH easier when you’re in a collaborative environment–could be the incipient difference in self-perception and sense of community that an otherwise killer desperately needs.

To actually get the people who need it involved in the arts requires real effort, and at least a little money–but maybe not as much as you might think. Here are some of my ideas on what we could try:

  1. Provide transportation to arts programs
  2. Supply scholarships for private lessons
  3. Teach art/dance/music/etc. at community centers
  4. Sign ourselves or our kids up for lessons to support local arts teachers
  5. Befriend underprivileged adults and invite them to free or low-cost arts programs with us (reach the parents, reach the kids!)
  6. Host an art/music/dance day at our church, activity club, or out of our own homes
  7. Get the word out about free artistic programs and productions

What are yours?

And what are your experiences with the arts providing a sense of belonging and self-worth? Leave a comment and discuss!

16 thoughts on “An Antidote for Gun Violence: Choral Singing

  1. Sometimes you wish WordPress had a “love” button instead of just a “like button.” Encouraging the arts as well as encouraging youth can make a powerful impact in the lives of the lonely! Being involved at all in the lives of young folk makes all the difference, but the arts give specific structure to that involvement in a way that many of us can appreciate as beautiful and artistic!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well said! Thank you! I totally agree–having the structure of something to work on together can remove so much pressure and awkwardness and just help people sink into the delight of the good things God has infused creation with. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Finding those things in common is something so lacking in today’s political landscape. Focusing on what we do agree on can make a huge difference! And having something to work on together, you are right – it really pulls people together when they have something to focus on instead of fixating on how their opinion differs from the next person’s!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is definitely a new response to gun violence. I love it! We need to do more activities in community and more that make us feel good about ourselves. Singing in a choir accomplishes both. Great article!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Please share and spread the word–let’s get more people thinking and talking about real, practical changes we can make to the social and emotional health of our culture at large. 🙂

      Like

  3. thecockesroost

    I am a boy mom and I agree 100% to teach and support the Arts to your kids. My kids learn more when we are doing things or activities together. I feel like parents overlook a kids emotions and assume a kid is ok–but, so not the case like your article said. I loved this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, and thanks for weighing in! You make a great point about how kids, and often especially little boys, need something active to keep them busy while they learn. Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  4. “Teach a kid art, and you give him a tool to communicate deep truth about himself that doesn’t require words.” Love this line! I totally agree with you and this makes sense, I have never been involved in the arts but have a two year old and would love to get her involved in things like this!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Go for it!! 😀 I just signed my 4-year-old up for a mommy-and-me dance class (see my post below, “Dance Class With a Boy”) and it was a *great* experience for him, even at that age, to just build confidence around strangers, learn to voice his thoughts freely, coordinate body movements, follow directions, and have fun with other kids (because he’s home with me, I have to put extra effort into socializing with his peers). There were some 2-year-olds in the class, too, with their mommies, so you could totally do something similar! 🙂

      Like

  5. melissamarieblog

    Love this! I definitely agree that involving our kids in arts programs and introducing a passion or love for arts could be so beneficial. I hope that more people read this and hopefully move towards a change!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love this post! We should collaborate! I do lots of crearive mindfulness activities with my little one Through various art forms, nature, etc. I think we all nees to work together to make positive change. X

    Liked by 1 person

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