Program Notes: Themes Foster Discussion in Music Classes

Watching a caterpillar change into a butterfly is an exercise we do at many sites as part of the theme of Transforming Lives

A music class with Harmony Hope & Healing is not all singing. We use music as a catalyst for discussion and meditation. Right, watching a caterpillar change into a butterfly is an exercise we do at many sites as part of the theme of Transforming Lives.

As Program Manager Sophie Wingland puts it, “Music helps people to be present. When I look around the circle and see participants swaying to the beat or tapping their toes -- that means they’re in their body and in the moment.”

In the peace circle process that Harmony, Hope & Healing uses in its classes, music and that feeling of presence is a goal in itself. But that presence also means the themes facilitators introduce into the circle lead to more meaningful discussion.

The themes spark class participants to tell stories and share their thoughts, creating opportunities for learning. For example, last fall was the third session of the year, when the theme was Finding Peace. This theme is based on the peace prayer by Lao Tse:  “If there is to be peace in the world, There must be peace in the nations….”

Reflecting on the theme of peace, a participant shared how she found peace during a nervous moment in the waiting room before a job interview at Shake Shack.

She went outside, took a few deep breaths to help calm herself “like I learned through Harmony, Hope & Healing,” as she told the group, then went back inside. Feeling more peaceful helped her stay centered in the interview--and she got the job.

Stories like these make the themes come alive. The themes were set in founder Marge Nykaza’s original operating manual for the organization, which formed her doctoral thesis. There are eight themes that rotate over a period of two years, with one for each ten-week period of music classes at a program site. The themes are:

Year 1 (2017-18)

-Cultivating & Building Communities with Harmony, Hope & Healing

-Transforming Lives Through HHH

-Finding the Peace with HHH

-A Season to be Thankful with HHH

Year 2 (2018-19)

-We are Members of the Community and Serving the City

-Share the Joy of New Life in HHH

-Celebrate Living in HHH

-Peacefully and Gratefully Singing with HHH

The theme for the current session, -We are Members of the Community and Serving the City stimulates questions such as “What does it mean to be a community?” In February, facilitators will discuss Black History Month one week; in another week, they ask participants to reflect on leaders or role models in their own lives who emphasize the need for community building.

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