I like analogies and recently the following one came to my mind:
What if we would consider music to be similar to cars and to moving around – like for transportation?
So here is the situation:
– Everyone who learns the rules and gets tested for their abilities, can drive a car or a motorcycle. But only few get into race cars or trucks. And even less, just a handful of pilots from the whole world, are good enough and successful enough, to drive a Formula1 or a NASCAR car, or a space shuttle.
– Even those who cannot drive a car, don’t qualify, or cannot afford it, can move around on a bicycle, a scooter, wheelchair, or rollerblades, skateboard.
QUESTION: Based on this, here is a question I have been struggling with: Why in the music world everyone able to play an instrument either wants to “drive a race car”, which means – wants to become a music star, or a majority just passively get “into a train, a bus, or sit and watch others to drive”, what means they are willing only to listen to music?
ANSWER: Those, who read my Musicably blog (for example here) may already know the answer. I believe, that everyone is a musician, but a majority of people take it extremely passively – and only listen. (I know, that there is a group of people, who believe they don’t need music in their lives at all. But that is a topic for a different discussion.) Therefore I am absolutely convinced, that it is a role of those who love music, who understand its importance, and who know how to make music, to show that passive majority, how to benefit from being more musically active. How toget better life through musicking.
Long time ago, in the primitive society, it was simple – everyone actively participated = walked. Obviously, because there was no other means of transport! And it used to be similar with musicking – everyone would participate in making music, singing and dancing. That’s how ancient societies worked.
Now, in the highly developed society, with a clear division of labor and a professional specialization, majority of people become passive, regarding almost anything else except their own work, or some specific interests.
So coming back to the transportation example – unless someone considers walking or running as a hobby, majority of people do it at an absolute minimum. And that to the detriment of their own health. It requires a clear warning from a doctor, or from our very own body, to get into an activity of walking again.
With music it is no different. The problem is, that not that many doctors would prescribe a musical instrument sessions, or singing circles, to patients ailing from various physical or mental issues. And too many people simply don’t see or understand all the benefits active musicking can provide. Although many more now understand benefits of daily walking, jogging, and other forms of physical exercise.
Therefore a health situation usually has to become really critical first. Then, if music could represent a possible improvement, it is already a music therapist, who is asked for a specialized intervention. And too often their role is only to mitigate various health damages already incurred.
So I have to keep asking – Why too few people understand benefits of the active music making? Why diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia have to rob someone of his or her consciousness first, that then music can become their only connection with their mind – and the outside world? Why children (big or small) when scared alone, tend to resort to singing – when their own voice becomes the only companion? Why is it often music helping refugees in cramped refugee camps to relieve their stress and help them cope with the dire situation? Why is it that only in human’s last hours some of them open themselves to unique music therapy sessions specialized for palliative care patients for them to ‘transition to the other side’ ? (Here music literally functions as a ‘transportation vehicle’, albeit for a human soul.)
And there are more examples and critical situations, when active musicking can help.
But why only in these extreme moments of our lives?
Why not more often? Why not always? Not everyone can become a pilot of F1, as not everyone can make it to the top of the music chart. But as everyone needs to move around and travel, the same way everyone should have the propensity to use music and musicking for their own needs and benefits. Anytime and in every stage of life and any social situation. Active music making has the power to help us and we should find the way how to use it for our benefit. Try it!
Photo by Huy Phan, Pexels