I grew up being very sheltered concerning the music to which I was allowed to listen.
I still remember, when I was eleven, that I had a friend who liked to listen to Britney Spears. Eventually, I started to listen to her music and to sing her songs. Yet, my oldest brother, upon hearing this, punished me in such a manner that I never dared to listen to her music ever again.
Time has passed and now a number of my siblings listen and sing rap, hard rock, techno, and other similar music.
At first, I was absolutely horrified, remembering how effectively I had been turned away from even pop music as a child. Yet, it often happens that, as time progresses, parents and older siblings become more lax. Thus, what once may have seemed almost like a mortal sin for us to do when we were growing up, all of the sudden became normal for those who came after us.
I often feel alone in my taste of music; which, in actuality, is not so much taste as much as the music to which I am accustomed. Most people get used to something and then like to stick with it because it makes them comfortable. Yet, is that necessarily a good thing?
When I turned eighteen, I came to realize that most of the people I knew listened to music which I never would have been allowed to hear as a child. This brought me to consider the following questions in my mind:
Was the music they listened to actually wrong, or was it just me trying to stick with what I was comfortable?
How can a person truly know what should be considered as bad music?
After much time and consideration, I came upon three guidelines which seem to explain the characteristics of bad music:
-1- Does it have bad language; if so, what effect does listening to such music have on us?
When we listen to music with bad language or crude humor it subconsciously implants itself into our minds. As a result of this, we may likely start to use these words in our daily life (unless we are very strong and are given many graces from God).
Several years ago, I knew a person who never dared to take God’s name in vain. Yet, after listening to music where God’s name was irreverently spoken, he also started to do the same.
-2- Does it get stuck in our heads; if so, what effect will this have on us?
Most of us have gotten songs stuck in our heads from time to time. Now, there is nothing intrinsically evil with this, but it can become harmful for our souls if it happens too often.
Once a song gets stuck in our heads, it distracts us from being able to think clearly. It turns our focus away from what we should and need to be thinking. This then makes it harder to perform our duties, and even takes away our ability to pray, read, or meditate on religious matters.
-3- Does it move us in a bad way; if so, what effect will listening to such music have on us?
Probably the worst effect of bad music is that it can sensually degrade us. Certain beats, rhythms, and words can affect our minds and imaginations to the degree that listening to it can become a near occasion of sin. If we then pursue this road further it can become the cause of our losing our innocence, purity, faith in God, and even result in the damnation of our souls.
Here are a few final thoughts to keep in mind.
Everyone is different.
Everyone responds to music differently.
Everyone has different spiritual, physical, and emotional weaknesses.
What might not effect one person harmfully might completely destroy the interior well-being of another person.
Upon learning the effects that bad music may have on us in particular, we might want to tell everyone these things in order to help others to understand them. While instructing others in these matters is a good idea in and of itself, it is certainly not what we generally ought to do. For, if a person is not ready to hear something, they will not listen to what we have to say. In fact, they may become all the more hardened in their ways upon hearing something which they are not prepared to accept.
The saints and Our Blessed Lord have often told us that being a good example is the best way for a person to demonstrate truth and virtue to other people. So, rather than being upset with someone for not liking the music which we like; let us all try to avoid the music that is particularly harmful to us. Let us worry about ourselves and the music to which we listen instead of correcting others (unless we are responsible for their upbringing). For, when others see us acting upon our consciences, it may inspire them to follow theirs as well.
Let us pray for the grace to be inspired to only listen to music which is beneficial to our souls and will lead us to heaven. Music is more powerful than we might think, and connects to our subconscious even when we are not fully listening to it. So, let us always choose our music carefully, and use it for the enhancement and salvation of our souls. Finally, let us apply this saying of the saints to our selection of music: "Remember that anything that disturbs your peace is from the devil."