The Unexpected Power Of Music

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Day 2: A Metro Story



It must have been unofficial rush hour or something, because as we rode on the metro that day, everyone in the train car was practically squished body-to-body against each other. Personal space was a distant dream. To my right, an older woman held on for dear life to the standing pole because there wasn’t enough seating room for her. Families with two or three young children tried to keep track of their little ones while simultaneously staying on their feet. A man wearing a Flamengo jersey and high top converse stood listening to music on his headphones, leaning against a door clearly marked with the words “não se apoie na porta. A keen looking girl in a light off white dress stared off in the distance, intently listening to music, the bright, harsh lighting reflecting off of her thick-framed glasses. As I grasped the metal support pole firmly, I felt the train rumbling steadily beneath my feet. All of the conversations going on in the car seemed to blur into one as my friends argued about friends or girls or something of that nature. My thoughts were all over the place – they might as well have been beneath the wheels of the train car or bouncing off the walls.

I looked up to check the map and see how many stops were left. The verdict: 6. Welp, guess we’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

After my somewhat-reverie, I focused with a start as the train reared to a stop at the exchange station. In a rush, my friends and I were pushed out of the car in a huge crowd – I suppose everyone was eager to get where they were going, because they pushed us stronger than the winter ocean currents in Rio’s beaches. We were basically dragged to the next platform in one fell swoop.

In the middle of the crowd rush, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Looking around, I didn’t see anyone who I recognized, so I began to turn around. Suddenly, I felt the tap again, this time much more noticeably, as I wheeled around once more.


The youthful girl who shared her story with me.

Standing behind me was that curious-looking girl in the off white dress. She asked, in almost perfect English, “Where are you from?” I was surprised. Usually in Rio, English is nowhere to be found. Quickly, I replied, “I’m Filipino, but I’m from the US. And you?”

She giggled furiously. “I’m from here,” she replied after her laughing fit.

The girl couldn’t have been more than 16 or 17 years old, but I’m honestly bad at judging age. Her glasses and braces added to her aura of youth, and in her eyes twinkled a curiosity, a question she’s been meaning to ask.

“So why are you here?” she asked.

“Oh, I live here.”

She stopped walking dead in her tracks, gasping in surprise. “REALLY?”

“Yes,” I said, “I’m studying at a university here.”

She looked like she was about to give me a huge hug or something, but she stood her ground, smiling wider every second. After talking a little bit more, we were approaching my stop. But her English was fantastic for someone who’d lived in Brazil her whole life, so I had to ask – “How did you learn English? Did you take a class in school?”

“No,” she said thoughtfully, “I love music with English words. So I just listened to music, and I learned how to speak from there.” She put her headphones back in as we waved goodbye.

And thus, as I stepped out of that busy metro car, I learned that music is much more powerful than we think.

Up next: Where was I headed that was so far from home on this fateful day? Check out @thekaydays on Twitter and The Kay Days on Facebook to find out.

Has music done something amazing for you? Do you think just anyone could learn an entire language through music? Tell me your opinion in the comments!

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