Doris Day died this week at the age of 97 (and yes, I know she wasn’t in The Sound of Music). My first thought on hearing this was to call my mum and tell her, before I remembered that she’s gone. My mum was a huge fan of Doris Day (and of musicals generally) and even had a picture of her as Calamity Jane on the wall at home.

As I was driving back from school this morning, there was a feature about her passing and, not surprisingly, I welled up. The feature said that she’d died at the age of 97 having been married four times, and that she discovered after his death that her third husband had embezzled $20m from her. Even so, she apparently said that she’d had a wonderful life.

One of her most famous songs was Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) and it struck me that we can learn something from this. There’s a form of therapy called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. It encourages us not to try to ignore intrusive thoughts (as by concentrating on ignoring them we are actually thinking about them) but to learn to take away the power these thoughts have over us. One way of doing that is to sing a silly little song to yourself about the intrusive feelings, which helps to minimise their impact; Que Sera Sera, with its message of acceptance and letting your worries about the future wash over you, seems to fit that pretty well.

And that got me thinking about songs and their uses generally. In honour of my mum and my lovely school music teacher, HT, who also passed away recently, here are some songs that I’ve found useful, feel free to add to the list:

Que Sera Sera (from The Man Who Knew Too Much) – to be sung when intrusive thoughts and worries about the future arrive, perhaps also with a little waltz

Whistle a Happy Tune (from The King and I) – to sing to your kids when they’re scared (or to yourself when you’re scared – fake it till you make it). This could be particularly useful this week with Naplan testing!

My Favourite Things (from The Sound of Music) – again useful when kids are scared, or when they need to be distracted from anxious thoughts

(I love you) A Bushel and a Peck (from Guys and Dolls) – I used to sing this to my son when he was little, and still do on occasion

Let it Go (from Frozen) – I’ve found this one very useful when I have squabbling kids in the back of the car, I launch into this and they shut up! Even the threat of it is enough now. (What does that tell you about my singing voice?!)

Music can be a true joy and comfort, so let’s have more of it in our lives.

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