Here are a number of illustrations to show how children, as well as adults, respond both in mind and body to music, and how music calls out much that may have been impressed upon their minds in a remote past. I remember on one occasion, when a number of people were gathered together to listen to someone playing on a violin, that a little child about two years old was present, who had never seen anyone dance and had never before heard the violin played. When the violinist had played a minute or two, the child began to dance and exhibited a wonderful degree of rhythm in the dancing, keeping splendid time with the music, and her whole countenance was transfigured with happiness. I am fully convinced that the music of the violin awakened long forgotten memories in the mind of the child, and that the pleasure, the dance, and the rhythm were all expressions of something that had been felt and lived before.
Again I remember being at an opera one night where a little child, apparently not more than eighteen months old, or at the most two years, kept time with both her hands all through the opera. On several occasions the father and the mother tried to keep her still, but she persisted in beating time, which she did with a correctness that could not have been excelled by many people who had studied music for years.
Some time ago, a former professor of the Royal Academy of Music in London, related to me the following story, having personal knowledge of and vouching for the truth of it: A child between six and seven years old who had lived in the country and had never seen or heard a piano, was taken by her mother to visit some friends. Shortly after she arrived, there were quite a number of people in the drawing-room, and one of them went to the piano and played a piece of music on it. When it was finished, the child said: "Mother, I can do that," and some other member of the party hearing her say it, told her mother to let her try. She went to the piano, and, standing before it, used the fingers of both hands and played the piece with very few mistakes. I do not believe that we ever do anything without first having worked for it, and I cannot believe but that the child must have had previous instruction before being able to do what she did; but that instruction had not been received during the few years she had lived in this life.
The following story I can personally vouch for, as I have known the lady who told it to me for years, and have absolute faith in her reliability. She says:
"A few years ago, when I was staying in Paris, some Russians who were in the same hotel met some Russian students at the Sorbonne. One day they came to the house and all the young people assembled in a large room in order to have a pleasant time together. In the course of the afternoon, a young Russian danced an intricate Caucasian dance. It represented the life story of a young peasant girl, and began quite slowly, the steps getting faster and faster until the girl drops dead in the midst of a frenzy of feeling and despair. At the end of it, I felt impelled to get up, and I repeated the whole dance right through with one of the Russians playing the music. It caused a great deal of astonishment and met with much applause. During the whole performance I was lost in the enjoyment of the dance, and it was only afterward that I realised what had happened. This was the more remarkable as I am of a very reserved disposition, and had never done anything spontaneously before a number of strangers till that time. Again, not being an expert dancer, everyone wanted to know how I remembered the steps, but they just came of their own accord. It is a significant fact that twice during the following days I was asked to repeat the dance and could not do so, as there were so few steps that I could remember."
This is the story as given me, word for word, by the lady. There is one thing, however, that she failed to relate, and that is, that some of her ancestors were Russians, and, while she herself was born in England, of an English father, through the mother's side of the family she gets the Russian, and in her build and features she is apparently much more Russian than English. If the theory of reincarnation is true, it is more than possible that all these cases can be explained on the assumption that the different actors in these incidents had previously lived and done the same things before, and it only required the music to bring that consciousness back again into vital, living existence.
I believe that man's subconsciousness contains all the good and all the evil of countless ages, and music may be made to call into consciousness all that is highest and best in his nature, as well as all that is unreal and debasing. Music may be made to strike every chord in man's elemental passion; there is no depth it cannot sound, as there is no height it cannot be made to reach. It may be made to inspire love of country or love of family; it may call out that something which is resident in all, the love of nature or the love of mankind, or the love which a man bears for a woman, or a woman for a man. It is well for us to remember that the tares and the wheat grow side by side in the subconsciousness. We have all sown the seed of both, and we all continue to reap the harvest of both. The seed-sowing is a continuous process, the reaping is just as continuous. All unconscious of the effect he is producing, man has gone on sowing and reaping, and all that he has ever felt or thought or done is written in his great book of life, the subconscious mind. Supposing that he has written into it unwittingly all the miseries and all the pleasures of earth, now that he is conscious of what he is doing, why should he not begin to write into it in a conscious way, all the joys and all the harmonies that come from true knowledge and righteous living? When the realisation has come to him that he is one with all the life and all the Power of God's universe, that he is a part of the whole, that all nature is rilled with melody produced in a rhythmic way, and that he in soul and mind and body is not only one with all nature but with Universal Life, with the very Soul of Music itself, then he will begin to sing his new song of life, because he will have awakened to a knowledge of music as it is - music that will be an ever-expanding power for good in his life, the music that comes from the heart, the music which appeals to the mind, and gives health and strength to the body. That being the case, how necessary it becomes to use the subconscious mind as a repository for that which is going to bring forth good fruits! One should cultivate the love of music that is of the highest and best order. In doing this all the noblest emotions will be aroused in the subconscious mind and will work with the conscious mind to bring, as it were, new riches into life. Very few people stop to think that in following any mistaken course they are only storing up for themselves added troubles, because trouble is cumulative, it is something that goes on growing, so that the little thing eventually becomes a greater thing. Thus we may add to all kinds of disturbances, while, if we had been able to see things aright from the beginning, we might have saved ourselves much mental worry or sorrow, and perhaps have avoided physical pain and disease. Let me say here that every unreal thought or emotion that we allow to enter the consciousness of the present will return to produce a continued action upon both mind and body. It should be understood that all music that appeals solely to man's superficial emotions and elemental passions produces a heated imagination which acts upon his physical organism to greatly increase its vibration, so that the natural functions of one's body are greatly interfered with, and the excessive actions thus set up will produce all kinds of reactionary effects. Why should anyone destroy his peace of mind or interfere with his own physical well-being? That is exactly what people are doing when they listen to vicious, unreal, emotional music. We know, then, that music may be made to call out not only that which lives in man's subconsciousness from a near or distant past, but that it may be made the means of going deeper than all subconsciousness and calling out that heavenly melody and rhythm that lives in the soul of man as an inheritance from God.