A YouTube algorithm delivered an interesting video to my computer screen. Colored only in black&white it looks depressing, even morbid. Actually it is not a video, because all what you can see for six minutes are three words – Why Music Matters. What you can hear is the important part. Jack Stamp, Professor of Music at Indiana University of Pennsylvania explains and proves the main point. Why Music Matters. Or to be more accurate, why music education matters.
He talks about the school system and priorities out of whack, where sometimes sport takes precedence even to academics. He talks about a built-in failure in the sport, where there is often a possibility for repetition, break, or correction. Also in academics, 95% means the mark ‘A’. But in music 95% doesn’t sound very good. And he proves it right on the spot. He conducts a youth orchestra. They play first at their best abilities and afterwards at about 95%. The second time it sounds awful.
Professor Stamp makes his argument for the importance of the music education. He talks about how music is beneficial for students because it uses both sides of the brain. Music teaches them technicalities like how to play an instruments, but also how to put ‘heart’ and emotions into a performance. He says: “Music demands perfection. We seldom get there. But it’s one of few things in life that demands students be perfect”.
To be clear here, it is not about attaining perfection, but about constantly aspiring for it. Constantly trying to be better. That is what makes music playing – musicking so unique. This constant improvement, in very small steps, is what makes musicking good for you, and what makes it also fun. You just have to accept it and enjoy the process. That is all!
The topic of Music Education is not the main focus of Musicably. Still, there is an interesting and important question – how are younger generations supposed to learn to play a music instrument, to sing, to become musical? If music education is constantly pushed out of the school systems, not only in the US.
I am clear in my conviction that everyone is a musician … potentially. If music means more to you, than just pushing a button on your radio or cellphone, then there was a point in your past, that changed your relationship with music. The only one, but crucial condition – that someone helped you at the very beginning. Someone introduced you to music by unveiling the beautiful world of musical sound. Could be your mother or grandmother singing lullabies when putting you asleep. Or your father who brought you a music instrument when you were five – like my father did with my first piano. Perhaps a friend grabbed your attention when strumming his or her first Beatles’ song on a guitar. Or you are the lucky one who had such a great music teacher as Professor Jack Stamp, who ignited the love for music in your heart.
On the other hand there is more and more prevalent possibility, that all your exposure to music has been from recordings. Be it form the radio, TV or other device. Or better still, from listening to musical performances in a concert hall, dance hall or a pub. As a listener, you may have been wondering for years – how would it be if you tried playing an instrument. How would it sound, if you put yourself up on a stage and started singing your lungs out. How would your social life look like, if you could grab a guitar and join others playing popular country songs in a camp. If you joined a local choir? Or produced your own dance track on a cellphone and played it at the next dance party?
Similar questions may pop up in your head once in a while. But you refuse them with a justification – that you are not musical. That you don’t understand music. That the music education system failed you.
There are many excuses you can find to not playing – not musicking. And all may be valid in a certain situation.
I have only one reson for you in contrary. Why you should be playing and musicking? Because you CAN! There is nothing holding you except your own ego/anxiety/shyness/… You fill the blank.
Doesn’t matter if your school sucked in music – if there was any music education at all. (My daughter’s 3rd grade teacher doesn’t do anything more than puts karaoke singing for her students.) Doesn’t matter if you are too busy, have no time, too many responsibilities, family, business, sickness … You still can and should be able to find 20 – 30 minutes in your busy week. Maybe you need to exercise, relax more, prevent burning out. Maybe you would like to meditate. Starting with musicking can help you with that too, if you do it mindfully.
What is the first step? You need to decide what instrument you want to try. And then which music or songs you want to play or sing. Which music genre. Have a look in your favorite music playlist and start from there. Then check YouTube. There is a tonne of free stuff, videos, instructions, webinars, that will help you to start. Or at least to help you makeup your mind. You just need to decide and make that first step.
And you can also sign up for Musicably newsletter. I will be posting more information and also videos soon. You can also contact me by email.