How Does Music Speak to You?

When music speaks, it transcends words alone, and is a powerful form of communication that brings us together as humans, enabling us to interact, celebrate, mourn and connect. 

The universality of music as a language is its strength, allowing us to express ourselves when the spoken word alone might be a barrier. This year, our annual giving campaign shines a spotlight on the different ways that music speaks to us all - audiences and musicians alike. 

Our Musica Viva Australia In Schools ensembles are experts at showcasing how music can speak to even our youngest audiences.  

We recently spoke with Jenny Eriksson, viola da gamba player for Musica Viva Australia In Schools ensemble Da Vinci’s Apprentice, and Susie Bishop, violinist and vocalist for Da Vinci’s Apprentice and Lost Histories, about how music speaks to them. 

Unsurprisingly, for both musicians, music has resonated deeply in their lives since childhood. Recounting her earliest musical memory, Susie recalls ‘watching the TV when I was four years old, and seeing this little boy who was the same age as me playing zippy bluegrass on a fiddle, and saying to my parents, “Why can’t I do that?” And that’s why I got my violin. Music for me is that pure channeling of your emotional terrain. When you’re playing it, you can experience a release that maybe you haven’t been able to have when you talk even to friends and family. It communicates something that words can’t. 

Similarly, Jenny remembers a great yearning to play music as a child: ‘My earliest musical memory is of the recorder band at my primary school when I was five. I was dying to be in this recorder band, and I managed to get into it when I was six. The recorder band used to march everybody into school after assembly every day.’ For Jenny, music is a practical tool for self-expression: ‘Music is something that’s very special to me. For me, speaking is not that easy and to be able to play an instrument and to express myself playing music, it just gives me freedom to express what I feel.’ 

There are so many ways through which Musica Viva Australia seeks to foster a music-rich future, harnessing this power across our myriad programs. We nurture the futures of our emerging artists in our FutureMakers program, as they learn to develop the unique way that music speaks to them while incorporating their personal connections to music in their performances and creations. FutureMaker Katie Yap says that music speaks to her ‘in many voices. It speaks to the head and to the heart, and to the body as well: thinking, feeling, dancing.’ Music education has played an important role in her life: ‘When it is in a group situation, it can be an incredibly powerful way of connecting on a visceral, emotional level.’ Katie, it seems, commenced her music journey at the youngest possible age: ‘There’s a story of me in utero when my parents went to see the Bach B minor Mass – apparently I loved it so much that I was knocking poor Mum from left to right in her chair!’  

For Paul Kildea, our Artistic Director, music represents a journey of learning from an early age: ‘My earliest musical memory, as a performer, is linking all the notes I had steadfastly been collecting on my school-allocated tenor horn – aided by A Tune a Day – into a song: Home on the Range. I’m glad that piano lessons began a year or so later!’  

Nowadays for Paul, music produces powerful musical moments. ‘Music has a profound and overwhelming effect on me – both in the moment of a (good) performance, and somehow also cumulatively, linking performances of any particular work over 40 years of concert-going.’  

A key objective at Musica Viva Australia is to spark creativity through our music education programs, but music education does not end with formal schooling. In fact, it is the start of what we hope will be a life-long journey, fostering connection, encouraging innovation and engaging communities; a process that we hope all our audiences can take with them. For Paul, ‘it’s commonplace to say that music education helps children learn team skills, coordination, socialisation etc. I love it because it opens up an entirely new and wonderful world of the mind and imagination to those lucky enough to be exposed.’  

Music is a journey and speaks to us all differently. Help us to find more ways to enable music to speak to more Australians by making a gift to Musica Viva Australia this financial year. Every gift makes a difference. 


Written by Caroline Davis

If you would like to support our annual giving campaign, go to
or contact Caroline Davis, Individual Giving Manager, | 0421 375 358