Monday, March 16, 2015

"You are the music."

" music heard so deeply
  That it is not heard at all, but
  you are the music
  While the music lasts.”
― T.S. Eliot,
Collected Poems, 1909-1962

        Imagine a world without music? It's like trying to imagine a world without LOVE. It's almost impossible. Do we really want to try? As an experiment watch your favorite movie with the volume down. Walk around a busy shopping center with earplugs or give up Spotify and iTunes for one week. Music lovers and musicians are conducting an orchestra in their heads at all times and every casual conversation evokes a song lyric. " Love is what I've got- I said remember that.." Music is one of the few activities that involves using the entire brain. Intrinsic to all cultures, music has surprising benefits including enhanced language development, improved memory and focused attention.  Music is valuable for physical coordination and development in children and adults.

  Why were we labeled  "band geeks" in high school?  Resentment? Jealously? Did other teens secretly covet our sexy plumed band hats, bedazzled polyester jackets and white spats? Maybe. Did insecure bully's instinctively recognize musicians as more attractive, superior, cooler, smarter? Well, it doesn't do all that but scientists have discovered listening to music or playing an instrument allows us to actually learn better. Aware of this for many years, research confirms music has the power to enhance higher brain function. Harvard University researcher, Gottfried Schlaug studied the cognitive effects of musical training. Schlaug and his colleagues found a direct correlation between early-childhood music training  and enhanced motor and auditory skills. They also measured improvements in verbal ability as well as nonverbal reasoning. Schlaug reported those suffering from tone-deafness often had an absent or reduced arcuate fasciculus, which is a fiber tract connecting the frontal and temporal lobes in the brain. A damaged or reduced arcuate fasciculus has been associated with language problems such as dyslexia or aphasia in young children. (see video above)

      Music is for music's sake. English author and philosopher Alan W. Watts stated in his inspired  lectures: 
     "When we make music we don't do it in order to reach a certain point, such as the end of the composition. If that were the purpose of music then obviously the fastest players would be the best. Also, when we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point."

      Schools across the country shouldn't have to fight to fund and maintain their music programs. Brain benefits aside, music allows us to fully express our unique creativity. Children who aren't coerced or forced to study music or learn an instrument but come to acquire a natural appreciation on their own will  find it enriches their lives in the most profound and powerful ways imaginable.

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