It felt right to start our week in Chapel following Family Day. After all, we are a family at Trafalgar. Coming together as a whole school for special moments like this is what strengthens our community and deepens our ties (It also gives us a chance to straighten our ties too, but uniform inspection is another topic).
As we so often do in Chapel, we raised our voices in song and delighted in a couple of old favourites. But then, in a moment of planned genius (or sweet serendipity) our choral director livened things up with a mix of Katy Perry, Shakira, and Miley Cyrus (when she was still the G-rated Hannah Montana). Watching the girls’ faces light up when the first familiar yet unexpected song started to play, watching lips move in synchronized expression and arms swaying rhythmically overhead, I was reminded of music’s ability to spread joy.
Each songs’ words spoke to the adolescent experience, just as popular music has done for generation after generation. Thinking back to my own teenage years, I recall wearing deep grooves in my records as I played and replayed songs by Bread, Chicago and Simon & Garfunkel (Needless to say, I’m aging myself here, while also revealing that my adolescent years leaned towards introspection rather than rebellion). While popular music changes with the times, its function remains a constant – to reflect the myriad of emotions that has always been the purview of adolescence. Music reminds us in our youth that generations have gone before us as we travel that rocky path towards adulthood and, in their best iterations, the songs give hope to despondent youth that better days are ahead.
In her autobiography, the poet Maya Angelou wrote, “Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to the loneliness.” What poignant words to express music’s powerful ability to give comfort as well as joy.
I am glad we took a moment this week to let the girls sing what speaks to them in this time of their lives. It can be hard growing up, and those middle years are particularly fraught with challenge. As much as we tell them they’re wonderful, that it gets better, that good times are ahead, we’re adults, and the words we speak sometimes ring hollow in their ears. Miley, on the other hand, has a message that sounds authentic:
The struggles I’m facing,
The chances I’m taking
Sometimes might knock me down but
No I’m not breaking
I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I’m going to remember most…
Keep the faith baby, it’s all about the climb.
A great message for anyone, but a particularly important one for young girls as they continue the climb.