Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Reflection: Music as a teacher

In the past months (and years, really), I've been intensely reflecting on what it is about Music that so captivates me. Why do I keep coming back to it? Like with anything else, there are failures and successes. (Failures: feeling discouraged/inferior/uninspired) / Successes: conquering a difficult piece, sharing a special musical moment with an audience, creating and debuting a new work.) And like with anything else that we find worthwhile, we find the energy to return to the challenge with even more determination and discipline than before. So, what's worthwhile about music?

For myself, Music is the lens through which I view life; the prime sensory mode. For other folks, it might be math, or medicine, or woodworking, or culinary arts, etc. Music can express hard-to-express emotions; it connects people together in an instant; it can be intensely personal, yet at the same time, it is undeniably universal.

Especially after having earned a piece of paper that tells people I studied Music seriously for 4 years (i.e. a music degree), I'm frequently asked "So... what's next?" or "What are you going to do with that?" As you might suspect, the more I'm asked these questions, the more bothersome they become. I know people mean well, but the questions still irk me--I think because these questions are primarily concerned with career- or money-based outcomes (rational, prudent concerns, for sure).  I think this belittles music's actual power; I would much rather be asked, "What music has moved you recently?" or "Would you like to make some music with me?"

Music to me is more a way of life than a means to an end. It involves:
  • Listening
  • Constantly learning
  • Collaboration
  • Improvisation
  • Being open to new ideas
  • Attention / Intention
  • Being present 'in the moment'
  • Discipline
  • Problem-solving
  • Creation
  • Beauty
Again, I'm not claiming music is the only medium that promotes these skills/ideals. It's just the one that has most resonated with me, personally. It's what's been at my side for the larger part of my life. Music is the thing that has taught me several lessons, which I'll share here as a snapshot of some tweets I posted a little while back:

What does music mean to you?

1 comment:

  1. Luke, as a fellow bearer of such a piece of paper, I completely agree with your annoyance at *those* questions. Those questions are irrelevant. Music is a communication skill. University should never be reduced to a vocational school; it has a different purpose. Your study of music, your participation in this experience with music, is an important part of who you are, of what you will bring to whatever endeavor you undertake. People might someday understand it. In the meantime, connect with people through the music, or just connect to the music itself. that is enough. in musical solidarity!


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