Students and professors gathered together on Thursday afternoon to hear singer-songwriter Melanie DeMore give a lecture on sound awareness and how music and media affect our lives.

“I do all different kinds of music,” DeMore said, “I call myself a vocal activist. That means one of the things I told my students is that I use my voice as a weapon of mass connection. That’s what I do.”

DeMore’s lecture consisted of stories of students that DeMore had gathered over her time as a teacher as well as a few examples of songs that DeMore sang to the audience.

DeMore said that she had been doing different kinds of workshops for many, many years. DeMore has worked in juvenile detention halls, men’s and women’s prisons and has taught workshops at many different universities.

“A friend of mine wanted me to come here and just do some singing and do some community building,” DeMore said. “You know, these days we need to have as many different ways to come together.”

During the lecture, DeMore talked about sound awareness and if you’re not awake, you can be manipulated by the things you see in the media.

She shared anecdotes of teaching 11- and 12-year-old children. She made them keep a journal, and every time they watched TV, they had to make a list of the commercials they saw. They listed the music in the commercials and the visuals, then wrote whether or not the commercials were aimed at women or men. Students also had to know what the major news story for that week was.

Eventually one of the students noticed that there were a lot of military recruitment commercials on TV, and when DeMore asked the students why that might be and what the major news story was that week, the class eventually connected the commercials back to the Iraq war.

The lesson DeMore was trying to teach her students, and the audience, was that if you are conscious dealing with the media, you have to stop and think about what the media is really doing.

Through personal stories and examples of songs, DeMore taught the audience about topics such as the music and media, and if we are not aware of what we are listening to, our lives can be influenced by something as small as a TV commercial.

“My main work is finding different ways to connect people together. Everybody has a place at the table.”