How Music Helps Me Worship
By Student Servant Leader Sam Amodeo
Music has always seemed to be the number one way to reach out to people. It exists to communicate, to connect with thoughts and emotions on any level of depth. As a trombonist, perhaps I’m biased, I have spent more time than the average young sprout looking at notes and interpreting them into the toots of a horn. But there’s so much more to music than the playing of it; there’s where you are, who you are with, what emotions and memories exist that can be connected to. Eventually, music becomes a bridge to some of those memories and emotions, which comes in handy when you lose yourself in a stress tornado.
Last year, I walked in to my youth group service with a thousand things on my mind. I was treasurer for two student groups, taking eighteen credits, playing trombone in the marching band and pep bands, organizing Feed My Starving Children volunteers, volunteering at robotics competitions, and trying to perform at the level of the rest of my fellow physics majors. It was a year full of expectations, everyone told me that I had to be at the peak of my intelligence, but what I saw was myself falling behind and everyone else always doing a little bit better.
This state of being in college is what led me to go to church. I was desperate for a place to come back to myself, make sure that I knew what I was doing and why. I still had a hard time accepting my situation, that I was lost in the world I had built around me, so it was admittedly a venture I could only take with some thinking time and an invite from a friend or two (Libby and Allyson, thank you). I came in with the most open mind I could, but my mind still raced, thick with the fog of checklists and sleep deprivation, as it had for weeks. I needed it to end, a way out, a bridge to cross. Suddenly, we were singing, and I found that bridge.
Service at Lutheran Campus Ministry (LCM) always starts with the band, with voices singing hymns together to the strumming of guitars, a violin, and a banjo. I couldn’t explain it at the time, but singing with them cleared my mind. I found focus in reading the lyrics and matching my vocal chords to the strength and tone of those around me. The chords rang and lyrics held emotion; it was beautiful to be there. I felt that singing connected me with the group, rather it connected us all to the same state of mind, reading the same lyrics, finding similar connections to parts of ourselves. The sermons and discussions afterward were then at that same level, despite the vulnerability felt from putting honest reflections in to words.
To this day, LCM’s services have continued to be meaningful to me because of that atmosphere. The sermon and the discussions teach a new lesson every time, always depending on what part of yourself you have chosen to reflect on. Even if some questions can’t be answered, I have left service always feeling further down the right road, and thankful for having once again been able to put my life on pause. It was through these services that I learned how to once again have meaningful conversations with myself and my peers.
It was a true journey, but I got through that year. I passed everything, more than half were B- or above, and I continue to get better. I found parts of my life I was holding on to solely because of others’ expectations and let go. I now believe more strongly in my future and try to chase my goals every day. It truly helps to have a better sense of myself and trust in those goals because of that. While I can thank the pastor and the other students at worship for helping me more than they probably know, I must always thank the musicians first for the connections they build within us all that allow for such great explorations into ourselves.