Sunday Smiles and Wonder

by Aug 29, 20212 comments

Today’s break from the news of the week

Joy, wonder, and musical celebration.

book jack Classical music to enjoy day by day: Year of Wonder

Music and Mystery

Music and the Mystery of Aliveness by Maria Popova (Brain Pickings)

Music has the power to inspire, to soothe and move. In this article, Popova focuses on the unique power of the composer Bach. She begins her essay with the incredible story of Clemency Burton Hill who wrote a book called Year of Wonder: Classical Music to Enjoy Day by Day.  She describes Bach:

“There is his (Bach’s) violin solo in E major (watch on YouTube) that always comes as ‘a shot of musical caffeine.’ In just a hundred seconds or so, this piece has the effect of apparently rearranging the molecules around me, making me see and think more clearly.”

Not long after writing her informative guide to music selections, Burton-Hill  suffered a catastrophic hemorrhage in her left frontal lobe that left her unable to see, move, or speak.  Slowly, Bach helped her recovery.  Read more in Music and the Mystery of Aliveness.

I think I am going to go listen to some Bach.  

Thanks to Kim Manley Ort for this recommendation.  Check out her blog and photostreams for more inspiration. 

Music’s capacity to explore, express and address what it is to be human remains one of our greatest communal gifts… We evolved by coming together around the fire every night, singing songs and telling stories — invariably, telling stories through singing songs. That’s what our ancestors did; that’s how they made sense of the world and each other;
that’s how they learned how to be.

Clemency Burton-Hill


Finding Joy

A recent talk that came through TED Recommends: Ingrid Fetell Lee entitled ‘Where Joy Hides and How to Find It’.

Cherry blossoms and rainbows, bubbles and googly eyes: Why do some things seem to create such universal joy? In this captivating talk, Ingrid Fetell Lee reveals the surprisingly tangible roots of joy and shows how we all can find — and create — more of it in the world around us.

Just for laughs

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is always entertaining, providing a lot of fun, and quite often toe-tapping energy.  Definitely one of my favourite lockdown discoveries this past year.  Now that some areas are back in lockdown or facing renewed restrictions, seems a good time to highlight their lockdown series.  I hope you enjoy it, whether this is your first intro or a return to this unique and talented group.

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Educator, Artist, Storyteller


  1. Martha

    I love you breaks from the news posts! My great granddaughter has a child sized ukulele!

  2. Phillip T.

    Everyone in my family plays a musical instrument. We find lots of joy performing together (unprofessionally).

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