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Music Connects Us

Updated: Mar 22

Find your peeps and make music

A group of people sitting in a circle, playing music.

I was sitting on the Metro platform immersed in my emails. The train pulled up, and phone in hand I stepped in. Noticing everyone else was holding their phones, I had to put mine away. As I looked around every single person was staring at their phone. Like me, a few moments ago, they were drawn in by their screens and oblivious to the world around them. I felt sadness as I thought about how these devices control us and disconnect us from our physical reality and each other. 

Between running my own small business and teaching at Concordia, I am swamped with administrative work. My favorite part of my workday is when I am teaching a lesson, facilitating an improvisation session, or improvising and/or singing songs with and for others. That’s because I am deeply immersed in human interaction. 

After every improvisation session I facilitate or every presentation I give, I now encourage people to keep the magic alive by getting a group of friends together to just play. It is vital for our musical and overall well being. Connecting with other like-minded people fuels our life energy. 

An image of David Darling, next to a quote: "Find people you love and make music with them."
— David Darling

I ran a project called “Live Your Music at Concordia” from 2018-2023 where I facilitated improvisation jams for Concordia students. The mandate of the project was to help any student interested in music overcome isolation and stress through social musicking. It was life-changing for me to see how these students gradually overcame their shyness and connected with each other. I witnessed camaraderie, laughter, awe, and even tears of joy. By the end of every session people were looking at each other, smiling, and communicating. While packing up my instruments, I enjoyed witnessing the students who lingered to talk, share their knowledge, offer mini-lessons and or jam. There were also those who were always ready to help my assistant and I pack and move chairs.  

During the pandemic, I along with my dear friends Mary Knysh and Cliodhna Ní Aodáin created weekly improv sessions over Zoom. Although live music making was clunky and limited, people signed on every single week, because they longed for connection - a connection with other souls who just love music. I made new musical friends, people from far away, and meeting them in person was quite an emotional experience. 

I also created my online EuSing! Classes during the pandemic, and I am still doing them because a wonderful community has formed. People join me from across Canada and the US, and I look forward to singing with them every single week! 

I will travel for miles to be with my Music for People community. Why? Because I just love being with this eclectic group of musicians who are passionate about what they do. We are connected by our love of improvisation, the freedom creativity allows, play and personal growth, and we own LOTS of musical instruments. At a deep soul level my inner child who always wanted to believe that life can be magical, feels seen and heard. I flourish in my music making. I feel a vital part of who I am is accepted. We share similar experiences. 

I love my family, I have wonderful friends who I’ve known for many years, I have numerous musical acquaintances, colleagues, students and former students who I enjoy spending time with. Most of these people don’t really get why I love improvisation so much, they see that I’m happy and they are happy for me.

Simply put, it is life changing to find something that you love to do and share that with others who share that same passion.  

I sometimes find myself in social situations where I am patronized for being one of those “artsy types” or I hear discussions about “overly-sensitive snowflakes”. If they want to hear my point of view, I share it, if they don’t, I just listen and imagine what it must be like to be living in their shoes, and am so happy I live in mine! 

I also encourage my voice students to find their peeps! Connect with people who get you, encourage you, cheer you on, and share the same passion for music you have. 

Pursuing music at any stage of life has great benefits! So regardless of your age or level of experience, you can enjoy music if you choose to. 

As I went through the Musicianship Leadership Program at Music for People, I knew I had to create the same magical musical environment at home. THANK YOU to all the wonderful improvisers who have come to jam in person and online. We are fulfilling that shared belief that life can be magical, that when we connect and create, we fill each other with awe and inspiration. 

A room full of people scattered about, sitting and playing music instruments.
A growing community

I am even more driven as I learn more and more about the benefits of music making at every stage of life, and social music improvisation in particular. Here is just one example from a recent article in Psychology Today

Empathy is built through processes like those involved in music playing, including sharing feelings, imitation, and collaborating (Haung, 2020). When people engage in musical activities, such as listening and dancing, they often connect to their emotions, as well as to the feelings of others. Moving, tapping, or playing music in synchrony with others encourages group cohesion, increased cooperation, feelings of closeness, and increased perceived similarity. Playing music promotes contact with others and acts as a vehicle for social interaction.

Try this!

If you are with a group of friends or family at the dinner table, create a kitchen drum circle. 

Here’s what you need: 

Shakers - containers of dried goods

Drums - pots, pans, wooden spoons

Wood percussion - chopsticks

Metal percussion - spoons

Guiro - cheese grater and chopstick

Gong - a bundt pan and rubber spatula 

Start a beat by tapping on the table and ask them to join you. Hand out the kitchen items listed above to each person, and begin to play! 

Send me a movie, picture or recording! 


Join Kate, Suzanne, Sam and/or I any Saturday afternoon until Jun 15, 2024 for facilitated Music for People improvisation Jams at the Centre des Musiciens du Monde in Montreal!


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