How do you communicate when words fail? Two ideas for inspiration

Lately, communication has been on my brain.  Our son just turned 9 months old a few days ago, and to be honest, I’ve never felt more challenged as a communicator than as a mom.  It’s been a crash course in identifying and naming all his cries, screeches, shrieks, and squeals. More than once I found myself asking – why can’t babies just talk already?

So, I started using baby signs with him, to help him make sense of his world a little better and give him some tools to tell me what he wanted.  He’s starting to learn them, but for the most part we still figure out what he wants based on his sounds.

As a musician, I wanted us to be able to connect with each other through music and rhythm – lullabies, dance parties, and teaching him how to play a baby-sized djembe drum (which he’s already rocking!).  We’ve had some of our best moments together this way.  Sometimes, when neither of us has the words, I flip on some music – any music – and away we go.  My husband has introduced him to Indian Bhangra music that he used to love to listen to, and our little guy loves to bop around to it.

Some ideas for inspiration

So, back to the question – how can we communicate when words fail us?

How many times have you said to yourself this year (or on social media), in response to something the world’s thrown at you – ‘I have no words.’

Below are two resources for you to watch, listen, and be inspired to use music to connect with others when words fail you.

Christine Stevens’ ‘3 Keys to Rhythm Conversations’

Christine Stevens is a facilitator, mentor, and highly sought-after keynote speaker in the field of music medicine.  Her “rhythm postcards” transport her audience to wherever in the world she is that week.

In her 2-minute video “3 Keys to Rhythm Conversations,” she drums an improvised piece with fusion musician Fantuzzi.  In the video description, she lists the 3 keys, which we can apply to any conversation, musical or otherwise:

  1. Take turns – listen just as much as (or more than) you speak
  2. Support each other’s creative ideas – go where the creative flow takes you, and use an open mind and heart
  3. Listen for a natural ending – know when it should be over, to allow room for something new to begin

Start with why – handpan drum inspo

Jeff Holland is a dedicated lifelong drummer, percussionist, and self-named “sonic artist.”  He’s one of the hardest workers I know, on a mission to inspire peace and compassion through sound – whether it be drumming, percussion, handpan drums, gongs, sound bowls, or something completely new.

In this 2-minute video, he takes his handpan drum (think an inverted steel drum) to the Grand Canyon and plays at sunrise to a 360-degree view of nature’s majesty.  No words, no introduction.  Just music and an unforgettable view.

Everything Jeff does, he does it with purpose and with the vision of bringing people of all backgrounds and ideologies together through the healing potential of rhythm and music.

I dare you to watch this video and not get goosebumps.  I invite you to sit in stillness for 2 minutes after watching and think about your purpose – not just your career, or your family, or your hobbies and interests – but your Purpose with a capital P.  What gets you up in the morning?  How are you living that purpose each day?  What action can you take to live that purpose more fully?

When the world outside becomes too much for me, I find comfort and rejuvenation in music – listening to it, making it, dancing to it.  Sometimes our favorite music can say what words can’t.

I hope this inspires you to flip on some music and get back in the groove.

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