35 Inspiring Quotes About the Power of Music

As music educators, we often focus our advocacy attention on the curricular benefits of music and gloss over many of the aesthetic benefits. The power of music is tremendous.

Music inspires. Music comforts. Just last week, Darryl McDaniels (DMC from the group Run-DMC) spoke about how Sarah McLachlan’s music helped bring him back from the brink of suicide. In our fights over what is curricular, extra-curricular, co-curricular we too easily forget that the emotional element is a large part of why so many students stay involved in school music programs around the world.

I collected a 35 Inspiring Quotes About the Power of Music and made a series of images. I have a couple of authors, traditional classical, jazz, classic rock, and modern musicians represented and ordered them by birth date. I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed putting this project together.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

"Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius." – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
“Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.” – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

"To play without passion is inexcusable!" – Ludwig van Beethoven
“To play without passion is inexcusable!” – Ludwig van Beethoven

Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent." – Victor Hugo
“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” – Victor Hugo

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

"Music is the universal language of mankind." – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“Music is the universal language of mankind.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)

"If a composer could say what he had to say in words, he would not bother trying to say it in music." – Gustav Mahler
“If a composer could say what he had to say in words, he would not bother trying to say it in music.” – Gustav Mahler

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

"The only love affair I have ever had was with music." – Maurice Ravel
“The only love affair I have ever had was with music.” – Maurice Ravel

Pablo Casals (1876-1973)

"Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart." – Pablo Casals
“Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart.” – Pablo Casals

Duke Ellington (1899-1974)

"There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind." – Duke Ellington
“There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind.” – Duke Ellington

Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

"So long as the human spirit thrives on this planet, music in some living form will accompany and sustain it." – Aaron Copland
“So long as the human spirit thrives on this planet, music in some living form will accompany and sustain it.” – Aaron Copland

Louis Armstrong (1901-1971)

"What we play is life." – Louis Armstrong
“What we play is life.” – Louis Armstrong

Billie Holiday (1915-1959)

"The whole basis of my singing is feeling. Unless I feel something, I can't sing." – Billie Holiday
“The whole basis of my singing is feeling. Unless I feel something, I can’t sing.” – Billie Holiday

Billy Strayhorn (1915-1967)

"All music is beautiful." – Billy Strayhorn
“All music is beautiful.” – Billy Strayhorn

Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996)

"The only thing better than singing is more singing." – Ella Fitzgerald
“The only thing better than singing is more singing.” – Ella Fitzgerald

Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993)

"I don't care much about music. What I like is sounds." – Dizzy Gillespie
“I don’t care much about music. What I like is sounds.” – Dizzy Gillespie

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)

"This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before." – Leonard Bernstein
“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” – Leonard Bernstein

Miles Davis (1926-1991)

"Do not fear mistakes, there are none." – Miles Davis
“Do not fear mistakes, there are none.” – Miles Davis

Buddy Guy (b. 7/30/1936)

"Music makes people happy, and that's why I go on doing it - I like to see everybody smile." – Buddy Guy
“Music makes people happy, and that’s why I go on doing it – I like to see everybody smile.” – Buddy Guy

Herbie Hancock (b. 4/12/1940)

"Music happens to be an art form that transcends language." – Herbie Hancock
“Music happens to be an art form that transcends language.” – Herbie Hancock

Riccardo Muti (b. 7/28/1941)

"A conductor should guide rather than command." – Riccardo Muti
“A conductor should guide rather than command.” – Riccardo Muti

Paul Simon (b. 10/13/1941)

"Music is forever; music should grow and mature with you, following you right on up until you die." – Paul Simon
“Music is forever; music should grow and mature with you, following you right on up until you die.” – Paul Simon

Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970)

"Music doesn't lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music." – Jimi Hendrix
“Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.” – Jimi Hendrix

Bob Marley (1945-1981)

"One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain." – Bob Marley
“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” – Bob Marley

Eric Clapton (b. 3/30/1945)

"For me there is something primitively soothing about this music, and it went straiught to my nervous system, making me feel ten feet tall." – Eric Clapton
“For me there is something primitively soothing about this music, and it went straiught to my nervous system, making me feel ten feet tall.” – Eric Clapton

Brian Eno (b. 5/15/1948)

"Lyrics are always misleading because they make people think that that's what the music is about." – Brian Eno
“Lyrics are always misleading because they make people think that that’s what the music is about.” – Brian Eno

Stevie Wonder (b. 5/13/1950)

"Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories. And the longer a son has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it." – Stevie Wonder
“Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories. And the longer a son has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it.” – Stevie Wonder

Prince (1958-2016)

"The key to longevity is to learn every aspect of music that you can." – Prince
“The key to longevity is to learn every aspect of music that you can.” – Prince

Bono (b. 5/10/1960)

"Music can change the world because it can change people." – Bono
“Music can change the world because it can change people.” – Bono

Wynton Marsalis (b. 10/18/1961)

"Through first-class education, a generation marches down the long uncertain road of the future with confidence." – Wynton Marsalis
“Through first-class education, a generation marches down the long uncertain road of the future with confidence.” – Wynton Marsalis

Flea (b. 10/16/1962)

"A big part of my life is music education because it changed my life - but arts, academics and athletics should all be equally treated in the school." – Flea
“A big part of my life is music education because it changed my life – but arts, academics and athletics should all be equally treated in the school.” – Flea

Sarah McLachlan (b. 1/28/1968)

"I think often sadness is a great place to get songs from" – Sarah McLachlan
“I think often sadness is a great place to get songs from” – Sarah McLachlan

Mary J. Blige (b. 1/11/1971)

"Music makes us want to live. You don't know how many times people have told me that they'd been down and depressed and just wanted to die. But then a special song caught their ear and that helped give them renewed strength. That's the power music has." – Mary J. Blige
“Music makes us want to live. You don’t know how many times people have told me that they’d been down and depressed and just wanted to die. But then a special song caught their ear and that helped give them renewed strength. That’s the power music has.” – Mary J. Blige

will.i.am (b. 3/15/1975)

"If you are a chef, no matter how good a chef you are, it's not good cooking for yourself; the joy is in cooking for others - it's the same with music." – will.i.am
“If you are a chef, no matter how good a chef you are, it’s not good cooking for yourself; the joy is in cooking for others – it’s the same with music.” – will.i.am

Beyonce (b. 9/4/1981)

"I can not imagine my life if I didn't have a music program in my school." – Beyoncé Knowles
“I can not imagine my life if I didn’t have a music program in my school.” – Beyoncé Knowles

Trombone Shorty (b. 1/2/1986)

"There's a lot of music at my fingertips that I can be influenced by. And just because I play a horn, I don't need to sound, or try to capture, what was happening before me. I can just respect it and learn from it." – Trombone Shorty
“There’s a lot of music at my fingertips that I can be influenced by. And just because I play a horn, I don’t need to sound, or try to capture, what was happening before me. I can just respect it and learn from it.” – Trombone Shorty

Taylor Swift (b. 12/13/1989)

"People haven't always been there for me, but music always has." – Taylor Swift
“People haven’t always been there for me, but music always has.” – Taylor Swift

Do you have another favorite music quote? Share it in the comments section.

About Joel Wagner 522 Articles
Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

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