Faculty Insight: “What Music Means to Me” by Lenora Anop



Dr. Lenora Anop

Several weeks ago I read a fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal Magazine on the topic: “Secrets: What do secrets mean to me”. This question was answered with a fascinating collection of unique, independent replies from nationally recognizable figures, including a former U.S. spy.

As I considered my topic for my “installment” of the SIUe Music Departmental blog, I found myself continually revisiting this thought provoking article. So — with that in mind and tailored with modifications for our purposes, I offer a fascinating collection of unique and personal responses written by friends, students, and colleagues: people from different continents, different age groups, different professions, different genders, different life experiences. The one common element is that we all listen to music, albeit different genres.

I hope that you find these replies as fascinating as I have.



I think music means different things to different people. Music to me is important. I feel like the music I listen to connects to a certain audience and people can pull out things that relate to them. My goal as a future psychologist is to prescribe music as the number one prescription. — (male) 19, Psychology


Music is an expression of what makes us human. Music transcends all generational, cultural, and lingual lines.  That is the power of music. It means that everyone can understand it. — (female) 19, Speech Language Pathology


Peace. Serenity. Clarity. Music to me is a place to calm my mind when stressed or just to relax. — (male) 22, Business Management


One of my favorite musical quotes: “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.”  — (female) 20, Environmental Biology


Music that relates to you becomes a part of you and can forever change the way you think, feel, and understand the world around us. — (male) 19, Computer Science


Music is the physical embodiment of emotion and the voice of the soul. — (male) 19, Psychology


A lot of fun. Really cool. It’s wonderful and beautiful. Fun to listen to.  — (female) 6, 1st grade


Music has gotten me through a lot of trying times in my life. I have a hard time expressing my emotions, so I use the music I listen to to help put my feelings into words. It’s also a great way to connect with people from all different types of backgrounds, and really helps me form a connection with different people. — (male) 22, Business Management


12791057_1292195924127705_7864973997595895720_nIt’s wonderful and fun and it’s so awesome to play for people and it’s so great to listen to while doing school and it’s so beautiful and wonderful to watch people perform. It’s so cool to see a live band play or to see an orchestra perform. Music is everything. — (female) 11,   5th Grade


Music to me is primarily a form of entertainment. Music speaks to and unites people in a way that nothing else in this world can. Music has transcended centuries and is an extremely powerful force in this world. People have used music in politics, as a weapon, for entertainment, for movies. Music is for everyone.  — (male) 18, Undecided


More than I can say. Music provides me with a soundtrack for my life. It gives me comfort. It gives me a way to bond with people I love. It gives me a way to pass time in the car. Simply put, it does nothing but make life better. — (female) 19, Mass Communications


Music has two meanings to me; one secular and the other not so. For general music, I see it as an artistic way for one to properly convey their feelings through instruments and voice. On the other side of the spectrum, religious music sits well in my heart as I have seen firsthand as the passion people have flows out as the love themselves worshiping the Lord.  — (male) 20, Elementary Education 


When I was a kid, music was a game. My mom would turn down the radio in the car for a moment, look back at me, and ask me what instruments were at work. She would then turn the music back up. Louder, once I guessed as many as I could. Nowadays, as a college student, music is my life-saver. It’s my safe place to go when I am feeling down. … Music calms me down and lifts me up. It explains things when words fail. (female), 20, Undecided


CoanJazz8Music is a form of lifestyle to me. I am constantly surrounded by music, whether it be traveling to school or work, watching TV or a movie, and even playing in a band with my friends every Thursday night. Music is a huge part o my personality and I feel that I am highly influenced by it. I feel music is a universal language that everyone is apart of and can understand. — (male) 24, Computer Management Information Systems


The sound of my mother’s voice. — (female) 5, Kindergarten



Without music, my life would be silent – blank – and I would be lost in a sea of solitude. — (female) 19


Music is a way to escape. Making music, on my own or with others, is a way to connect with myself, the audience, other musicians and the composer. And as a composer, music provides a creative outlet for me to create art in my own personal way. When playing, listening, or composing, the rest of the world stops and I can be myself. Since music has been a significant past of my life for 16 years, it was too important for me to not be part of my education at a higher level. — (male) 21


Music has been the biggest part of my life since I was a child. It has taught me everything that I know. In music, I have not only found love with and for other people, but for myself as well. Nothing has ever challenged me so deeply but still given me hope. — (female) 21


Music is my life.   It’s what I enjoy doing, and is now intertwined in the foundation of my life. Everyday I am involved in something with music, and I plan to keep it that way. Whether I’m playing or just listening a form of music is there. — (male) 18


CoanChoir9Music is to me water is to fish, what the sun is to Earth, or oxygen to all living things. It is life. It is how I see and feel, how I interact, how I express myself. It is a way to convey emotion on a level that words simply cannot match. It is the voice of the soul, quietly in the background, or screaming to the heavens. Most importantly, though, it is who I am, and music means all that I am. — (male) 18


It is the way we express the deepest parts of our soul. It is the way we find beauty and peace in an imperfect world. It transcends language and brings people together who exist in all walks of life. It brings joy, sadness, fear, and love and shows people they are not alone. So what does music mean to me? Everything.  — (female) 22


Music, to me, is a journey that never ends. It will sometimes be turbulent and it will sometimes be smooth. It will sometimes be boring and it it will sometimes be exasperating. Although I know I’ll never reach the sublime heights of perfection, that doesn’t matter. So long as I keep persisting with friends [and] loved ones supporting me, I will be more than willing to keep following that journey with a smile on my face. — (male) 19


Music is the bond that links us all together. In the world of music, no limitations exist. There is no discrimination of race, gender, age, attractiveness, etc. — (female) 23



Teachers, researchers, academicians, performers, and composers

CoanHinsonA question with a complicated answer. Music is simple and fun in the beginning. It is something that one can fall in-love with by listening, sharing and wanting to “do”. When he or she decides to pursue the study of music, it becomes work. Developing and refining your technique and artistry over many, many years becomes at times exhausting. There are times when existing as a musician is tiring, difficult, and stressful to a point of not liking it anymore. Playing and teaching music undeniably develops feelings of love & dislike, with greater depth than the average listener will posses… But in-the-end, it is who we are. We become what we hear,  feel,  play, and teach. 


I don’t know any different, and I am certainly not good at anything else. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.


 Music is the only universal language. It can cross any border and bridge any gap to stir souls and unite hearts and minds. In this way, music is more powerful than the strongest army and more persuasive than the best negotiator.


I’ve always liked a quote from Leonard Bernstein: “Any great work of art revives and readapts time and space … and the measure of its success is the extent to which it makes you an inhabitant of that world — the extent to which it invites you in and lets you breathe its strange, special air.” I’ve had a lot of experiences where I knew it was (for example) 8 pm when a work began and was surprised at what a considerable amount of time had gone by at the end. Or, a work began and reminded me instantly how much I like being in that particular composer’s universe, much like meeting up with an old friend after many years apart. In that sense, music is for me a means of transportation into another reality, where time isn’t strictly linear and the normalcy of my own world doesn’t apply for that moment. As a composer, I find the experience of creating music to be a dream-state. I eventually wake up and there’s a score on my desk, but I never remember much about how that happened, in the same way one doesn’t remember much in the morning about even quite vivid dreams during the night. This is not to say I don’t pay attention to the details of structure, harmonic language, or orchestration when I’m listening, but I do tend to listen more as an immersion process than an analytical one. For this reason, I’m extremely impatient with music that seems predictable (or that I simply don’t like), while I can listen to music I do like many, many times without growing tired of it.


 I love music not simply for the sounds themselves but because it connects us to people and community. Passion for music is wonderful and necessary, but for me the answer to the question involves much more than my own individual experience and personal reactions to music I love. Music is like a life force that allows us to understand our fellow neighbors and human beings in ways that we could never imagine otherwise. I also love learning about the ways that music of the past helped people connect to one another. We can learn a tremendous amount from music of the past and by exploring traditions and musical cultures we are less familiar with. I also love music because of how it documents past history, stories, and encounters between people and communities.



I realize that most people use music as a support system, i.e. the music provides an environment or accompanies an activity that has a priority over the music itself. But for, for me, music is important for its own sake. I love music for the connections it provides: a link to the composer and the people of his time, a connection with the people seated around me as well as the millions who have heard the same piece for the past few hundred years, and the bond it creates between me and my feelings, memories and faith. To hear music is to appreciate the talent and craftsmanship of composer, be astonished by the technical feats of the performer, be inspired by the beauty that comes from combining the venue with the performer and the composer, and to be moved to a vision of a more perfect world. Music brings me closer to God and reaffirms my beliefs. Great music is transformational and uplifting, it can move me to laughter as well as tears.


 Now it is your turn: what does MUSIC mean to you?


One response to “Faculty Insight: “What Music Means to Me” by Lenora Anop

  1. “Mac” Hinson, it is with great pleasure to read your insights of being a professor of music. I met you over 35 years ago when you were a student at Juilliard School of Music in Manhattan. I knew you would go far. I am proud to have known you for that short time we had there. God bless you and your beautiful carreer. ~Marilyn~


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