Stephanie DePrez to the Class of 2013: Music will save the world

June 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

Over the next few days, The Ignatian Educator will be posting reflections from a few Ignatian educators around the country. The prompt given to them was this: What would you say to the class of 2013? In approximately 250 words, give a mini commencement address.

Today’s contribution comes from Stephanie DePrez of Xavier College Preparatory in Palm Desert, CA.

Music Will Save the World

By Stephanie DePrez

June 7, 2013

The older I get, the more I am convinced that listening to music will save the world.

Everyone likes music. Even though tastes differ vastly, the enjoyment of a particular collection of rhythms and pitches is universal. Maybe you like the four chord pounding structure of EDM, because it gives you an emotional high and makes you want to dance. Maybe you like the acoustic guitar and gritty lyrics of Ed Sheeran, because he makes you feel like you’re experiencing something truthful. Maybe you dwell in the orchestrated world of the Halo soundtrack, because it makes you feel like you are connected with a grand adventure. These are all tastes I’ve encountered from students popping in and out of my classroom, playing the piano or demanding I search something on YouTube.

There is a deep, emotional, fulfilling tie to certain songs and genres because they reflect something we desire to make a part of us. A melody can immediately recall a memory. Lyrics can make us feel like we’re not alone. Sounds that are foreign can be intriguing. Our music can set us apart from people or draw us together. Ultimately, I think music is the subtle stream of emotional cues we place next to us in order to define who we are, or who we want to be. This gives music tremendous power.

One hesitation regarding this emotional pulse is that you can fall into a genre or artist and begin to feel an ownership that is so strong nothing else can satisfy. You become so dependent on specific musical cues that when you meet someone else who dwells in that particular arrangement you begin to feel slighted, unable to share any measure of what you love. This is the worst of sins: to feel that your love for something is diminished when you find someone else who loves it, too.

But the opposite of this can also cause one to regress – to never fall in love with anything. If you never find music that speaks to you, that calls you to greater experience, I am sorry for you. Most often this is the result of passive listening. You hear whatever is on the radio, what your friends have, what your parents play. You never seek an artist out, or look for that song you like. You become adrift in the popular melisma, never actually hitting a high note.

Have you noticed I’m not really talking about music?

Graduates: listen to everything, all sorts of songs and genres, all kinds of artists and arrangements, until you find the stuff that sounds like you. Listen to your friends, your family, your professors, your neighbors, your mentors, the radio, movies, the news, and make an effort to see what sticks after silence has settled. Don’t be comfortable just drifting along – be intentional about finding the melodies that speak to your soul and inspire you to action. For when you find that ultimate song, when you can swear that the artist must be writing just for you, you begin to realize, He is.

Stephanie DePrez

Stephanie DePrez


Stephanie DePrez teaches theology and directs choir at Xavier College Preparatory in Palm Desert, CA. She can be reached at

For prior entries in The Ignatian Educator commencement series, click here.


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