What do you think is the universal language? We realize that we can push a couple of keys on a computer, phone or other smart device and we can change the language from English to just about any one we want. Some people say that music is really the universal language because no matter what country people are from, they understand what music communicates. Stevie Wonder said, “Music is a world within itself with a language we all understand.” We were interested to find out more about the language of music and the benefits of it.

Throughout life, music can have quite an effect on us mentally and physically. Music definitely affects mood. Have you noticed, when watching a movie, how music enhances a story, leading us to feel sad, excited, happy or frightened by how the music changes as the plot unfolds? If you are a music lover, you might also remember being at a concert and having the depth of the music bring you to tears, just by the beauty you are experiencing.

There are many applications of music that help with healing. Elena Mannes, in her book, “The Power of Music,” tells how music can help people to feel whole. Music therapists have many ways they use music to help treat different emotional and physical conditions. Children respond to music therapy because it goes beyond words and it can lessen pain and bring some happiness as they take part by playing a drum or adding to the music with percussion instruments.

Music has been shown to be a powerful healing agent for all ages of people. An interesting application by music therapist, Elizabeth Stegemöller helps Parkinson’s patients improve their motor skills by playing music that is familiar to them. It’s played repeatedly so they can learn to move to the beat and then repeat the process in their head. Because music therapy has such a powerful effect on the brain it can be helpful for many conditions.

As I, Lynn, was growing up, my mother instilled a love of music in me as she played the piano and sang both pop songs and opera. I was always part of a choir. Now I’m a music appreciator.

For me, Doug, music has always been an integral part of my life. I grew up listening to my mother play the piano. Music, particularly, vocal music, has provided many benefits to me. I’ve met so many wonderful people through being involved in different musical organizations. Music performance has also given me an opportunity to tour nationally and internationally and engage with many world-class artists and conductors. It is an amazing experience to connect emotionally with an audience through music.

To find out more from a music lover, we talked to Mark Abelsen, a Chanhassen resident, who is director of Music and Worship at Mount Calvary Church  in Excelsior. He’s also musical director for Theatre 301, which will be presenting “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” on March 6, 7 and 8 and March 13, 14 and 15. Tickets are available online at

Mark is a talented vocalist, pianist and conductor. We asked Mark, “When did you first notice you were interested in music?” Mark replied, “I remember when I was a little boy – two memories. One, when my sister would play the piano, I remember lying underneath the piano, listening to her play ‘The Entertainer.’ Then my grandmother also played the piano by ear. I remember always lying underneath it and watching her feet and listening to the music. Those are my first memories. I remember wanting to do that – what they were doing.”

Then we asked Mark why music is important. He answered, “I find music to be important for so many reasons but mainly because, I think, it allows people to express themselves, especially for someone like me, who doesn’t find words easily to express joy, or sorrow or anything. It moves us beyond words and transcends us in a way that nothing else can.”

We agree that music can be a powerful influence in our lives.

What about you? What does music mean to you?

Some thoughts: Plato sums it up, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” Notice how music affects you. It’s a universal language and can promote healing. We encourage you to take time to reap the many emotional and physical benefits of music so you can live life to the fullest.

Chanhassen residents, Doug and Lynn Nodland are success coaches and owners of the Balance Center in Excelsior. Contact them at More information and videos are at


Chanhassen residents, Doug and Lynn Nodland are success coaches and owners of The Balance Center. Doug and Lynn can be contacted at More information and videos at