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XP 5: What role can music play in times of loss or grief?

Music is a powerful medicine for healing from many types of hardships.

In times of grief, music can serve as a way to bring people together and celebrate the lives of people we love who died.

Think About

  • What role can music play in times of loss or grief?
  • How can people express loss or grief through music?
  • How can we honor and celebrate our ancestors through music?
  • What ways can music help us heal when we experience hardships?

Get Started

Consider the following:

  • Is it possible to have a celebration or fun in times of hardship, loss, or grief?
  • How might music help people transition from mourning a loss to celebrating a life?

New Orleans is known for “putting the FUN in funerals” through a long-standing tradition called second line jazz funerals. These are led by brass bands who are rooted in Black communities and use music to reclaim traditional African mourning rituals.

  1. Watch and listen to the following example of second line jazz funeral in honor of a community member.

The approach of celebratory music for times of grief can also be applied to other communities and cultures.

This is the case in the song Wage Love by Complex Movements, which is dedicated to Charity Hicks, Sheddy Rollins Sanchez, and Grace Lee Boggs.

Listen to Wage Love:

  • How is Wage Love celebratory?
  • How can you tell Wage Love is dedicated to people who were important to Complex Movements?
  1. Think about and answer the following questions: 
  • How might music such as the songs played in the Second Line or Wage Love bring people together and celebrate the lives of people we love who died?
  • What are ways music is or isn’t connected to grieving in your community and cultural traditions?
  • What are ways you can bring people together through music in times of loss and grief?

Share What you Learned

If you are using the LRNG platform:

  • Go back, find out what to submit, and complete the XP
  • If you want, you can then learn even more with the optional “Go Further!” activities below

If you are not using the LRNG platform:

  • Continue below and share with your teacher or organization:

Sharing What You Learned

Next Steps

Curious about learning more? 

Go Further! (optional) Learn more about the Second Line and jazz funeral traditions

Go Further! (optional) Learn what role music can play in your own loss, grief, or hardship


Move On

Return to the Connecting Music and Culture Music Learning Playlist