Paynesville Press - March 15, 2006

Community Perspective

Power of music connects, bonds people

By Sami Tierney

(Editor's Note: March is Music In Our Schools Month, and the Press - with help from the music faculty - will feature perspectives on the importance of music this month.)

I was asked to write this essay on how music has been an integral part of my life. I figured it would be an easy task, and I would complete it in an hour at most.

I put off the composition (as any good college student does), and when I finally sat down to write it, I found that it was one of the hardest pieces I've done.

Is it possible to put into words the influence that music has had? I doubt it. However, I think that I would like to do my best to share how music has been a fundamental component in my life.

For as long as I can remember, I've been a student. This has been a crucial factor in my involvement in music. I got my start in the Children's Choir at St. Louis Catholic Church because the director was my kindergarten teacher. Because of the confidence I gained from singing at church, I was happily involved in the music class programs through elementary school.

Middle school choir and pops choir was also an excellent experience, as well as my attendance at a music festival at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

In fifth grade, I took up playing clarinet, broadening my repertoire as a musician. In eighth grade, I began taking piano lessons. I figured I'd get all my bases covered.

High school offered a plethora of opportunities, including many more music festivals and extracurricular opportunities in both band and choir. My involvement in band led to bonding opportunities in both jazz band and pep band.

Comparably, being in choir led to enjoying three years in pops choir, as well as many other music festivals. Among these were the Dorian Music Festival at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and the Minnesota All State Choir.

Outside of these school-based experiences, my passion for music overflowed into Fast Forward and On Call. Through Youth For Christ, based in Willmar, I spent eighth grade through senior year performing concerts at area churches. These ministries taught me more about music; they taught me about the power of music and how it does so much to form and develop bonds among a group of very different people.

The aforementioned holds true for my all-state choir experience. Here I am at college, and in my choir, there are at least six of us that were in that all-state crew together. We have that bond, that common denominator that only we share with each other. That's what unites us, what binds us as friends, what connects us as musicians.

It's funny that music has the power it does to connect people. Again comparing my high school to my current college experiences, it's fun to see people come together for choir, pep band, and other various activities that we were all involved in in high school. We know that choir and pep band are what they are, that it's a fun time and a group bonding experience.

Each of us had a great time in high school, and that energy transfers to what we make our college pep band and college choir. Again, we have that common denominator. It's a little different this time, because we each bring that denominator from different experiences.

I know that music will always be an essential part of my life. After college, my music experiences as a student will be done and it'll be time to bring together an even more diverse group of denominators.

And I'm looking forward to it, because I know what my involvement in music has done to form who I am, and I'm excited to see where it takes me.

Tierney, a 2004 PAHS grad, now attends St. Thomas University.

Would you like to participate as a Community Perspective writer? Call Michael Jacobson at 320-243-3772 to get scheduled as a writer or e-mail him at

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