February 23, 2010

Music and Beauty

Music is the ball, life is the playing field, the teacher is the coach, and the student is participant. Moving the ball requires knowledge of musicianship which in turn promotes character development and life skills for the participants. The teacher enables the student to discover the music that resides within the heart, as the student experiences making music and develops listening skills. Ultimately, music will prepare the student to live life with a greater depth of meaning and understanding.

The analogy may seem far-fetched to the pragmatist and materialist. Yet the unseen forces of music in human lives are visible every day. We encounter music everywhere - radios, iPods, mp3 players, CDs, video games, television, shopping malls, stores, movies, advertisements – and music essential to their existence.2 From brain learning research, the complexity of processing music in the brain demonstrates a remarkably high level of neurological activity. In fact, the healing professions recognize and utilize the healing elements of music. In math, science, and English, brain learning is enhanced and stimulated by the making of and participation in music.

The disciplines employed in musicianship have intrinsic rewards. Self-growth, self-knowledge, self-confidence, self-control, and personal enjoyment are inherent in the process of acquiring the skills of musicianship. Beauty calls to beauty. The beauty of music calls forth the beauty that resides in the souls of the music-makers and the music-listeners. In the playing field of life, music may display many facets of beauty, as a diamond when rotated under intense light. And more than just an enhancement to our lives, music can enrich and give dignity to our humanness.

Music shares the quality of beauty with other academics. Not all instructors see the beauty of their disciplines, but those who have mastery of their fields will speak of the beauty of an equation, hypothesis, words, or sounds. And though many walk right past beauty in their everyday lives, without giving it a thought or glance, young children seem particularly aware of beauty all around them. Though, a person’s perception of beauty may become dulled over time, music continues to put forth its call in hopes of awakening a student's slumbering awareness of beauty once again.

- Allen Long