Music is The Solution, Not the Problem – Part 1
How often do we hear about music programs being cut back or eliminated from school programs K-12, public and private? They say we need more math and writing skills. So, the outcome is the same over and over again. As parents, policy makers and the schools themselves urge this trend forward, what are they missing? What are we overlooking? To answer this question we need to think about why music is of any importance at all.
We hear music every day, so frequently and in so many ways. We hear it on television commercials, movies, radio clips, online, everywhere and anywhere. So many of us listen to and hear music daily, that we all sort of take it for granted. Well, we shouldn’t. Music is not just a CD, a download or thing that some of us do on our spare time just to have fun, to pass the time (which is not to say that there is anything wrong or inappropriate with having fun or recreation with music.)
By viewing music as a purely recreational activity and a commodity, we continue to downgrade it as an essential and necessary part of primary education. As we continue down that slippery slope, more of us are buying into that kind of perspective.
In turn, our politicians and educational bureaucrats continually purge music education, performance and appreciation from our schools as a superfluous unessential and way to successfully trim budgets. This policy and mindset is having a profoundly negative affect on our kids, our culture and our society.
Please consider the following facts.
1. Music, which must have begun as an attempt by our ancestors to answer their most fundamental questions about the meaning and purpose of their very existence, predates “civilization” by some accounts up to 50,000 years.
Just recently a prehistoric flute was found in Germany and identified as being the oldest musical instrument ever discovered. If this is correct (as we have every reason to believe that it is), our predecessors started to make music approximately the same time they began drawing and painting cave art.
What were they making music about? Perhaps we can draw comparison to prehistoric wall art in order to improve our ability to contemplate on what they may have been thinking or “playing.” After all, we do not have any remains of their music intact as we have of their instruments but there is one thing we can know for sure. Our predecessors had plenty of time to listen to and reflect upon their world, in between hunting parties, staying warm and just surviving. And this is key: the experience of timelessness and of the eternal just happen to be one of the core elements, qualities and benefits of making music.
Running brooks, the wind, rustling leaves, growling wolves, roaring lions and singing birds were the perpetual backdrop of our predecessors existence. Seen in this perspective, music represents one of the very most profound practices of humanity. Music and cave drawing and painting represents mans first attempt to conceptualize, represent and understand the world.
2. Do writing, reading and mathematics all come from the same part of our brains? That would be a good question to ask a brain researcher. Perhaps what is more important is that writing, reading and mathematics are an outgrowth of music. We know that in ancient Greece, music was a science – a realm of exploration comparable to and as important as astronomy, mathematics and philosophy.
3. We listen to and play music because there are thoughts, feelings and emotions that simply can NOT be put into words or translated into a mathematical formula. The fact that we can comprehend certain realms only through hearing or playing music demonstrates and proves our profound need through music, to answer our most burning questions about our existence.
This is why we have to reconsider the importance and role of music as being a key component to our children’ primary education. I will elaborate further in – “Music is The Solution, Not the Problem – Part 2.” Suffice to say, if we continue down our current path, our children and their children will suffer an incalculable lose to their ability to think, to be whole and to being human.