BEING WELL // THURSDAY, SEPT 28  3:00-4:45PM (RM 201)

The Healing Music of Taizé
Michelle Bythrow

Taizé music found in Taizé worship gatherings provides spiritual and emotional healing to those who are looking for a contemplative experience as opposed to the very busy world in which we live. The question posed is this: Does Taizé music have the capacity to heal people who have anxiety or stress due to overstimulation?

This research study included interviews assessing how Taizé music may or may not affect those who participate. Those interviewed were Steven Warner from the University of Notre Dame, Dr. Judith Kubicki from Fordham University and Father Trace Browning of All Saint’s Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, Utah. Other sources included scholarly articles, books written by Taizé-affiliated authors and composers, common-use Taizé sheet music, YouTube videos and a Time magazine article.

Interviewees provided substantial evidence through experience about healing moments they witnessed. Steven Warner, though reluctant to give names, said that he knows “legions of stories” about how his students had been healed through the model of Taizé: healed from abuses and human mistakes. Each interviewee agreed that Taizé music, when experienced by those seeking it, provides peace through silence and Christian contemplation. Interviewees also gave proof of healing in the form of stories they witnessed personally and through the stories of others who professed to them.

Conclusions found that people, when exposed to music of their choosing, are relieved of anxiety and stress because chosen music serves as an opioid on the brain that releases dopamine, creating positive sensations on the brain and body. Participants of Taizé music worship gatherings who attend regularly find healing of anxiety and stress caused by overstimulation. Taizé gatherings provide an environment conducive to slower heartrates that help participants feel peaceful, allowing them to engage with the gathered community in contemplative music, prayer and silence.

This presentation may include practices of Taizé in which participants join.

BIO

Michelle DeFrancesco Bythrow has a Bachelor of Music Education from Indiana University, Bloomington; a Master’s of Sacred Music from the University of Notre Dame; certifications in Vocology and Contemporary Commercial Vocal Pedagogy; and is in her final coursework toward a Master’s of Vocal Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College. Her multi-faceted Christian/Catholic roots have allowed her to work in Presbyterian, Catholic, Methodist and Non-denominational churches. For three consecutive years she was a featured speaker, break-out teacher, and musician at the Storyteller’s Arts Conference in Naples, Florida. She presents knowledge from positions of extensive leadership as a team vocalist, arranger, cantor, worship leader, and educator.