We often read that music has tremendous collateral benefit in other subject areas, such as math and English. This is quite true, with plenty of research to back this up. But music possesses intrinsic worth, providing a host of benefits to our human condition. In fact, last year the US Senate voted to list music as a core subject in the Every Child Achieves Act. This recognition was a huge win for music educators and students alike. We’ll explore some of these intrinsic benefits in depth this year, but before we do, here’s a brief list exploring involvement in music for music’s sake.
1. Music helps build a sense of self identity.
The Huffpost relates the following:
…there is a tribe in Africa in which music lies at the very essence of an individual’s identity — both to him/herself and to the community around them. When a woman there decides she wants to have a child, she goes off and meditates until she hears the song of the child she will conceive. She then teaches that song to the father-to-be and, together, they share the song…Once pregnant, they teach the song to their community to sing as the mother is giving birth, welcoming the child into the world with its own song. Later in life, if the child ever goes astray, the community sings the song to help the child remember who he/she really is, as a guide to a deeper connection of inner or higher self. – Frank Fitzgerald, “WHY Music? Defining Who We Are Through Music”
Pretty amazing, huh? You’ve probably experienced this yourself – hearing a song from your youth and being instantly transported back in time. Music connects us to our inner-selves, throughout the arc of our lives.
2. Music helps build a sense of group identity.
We all can relate to this! Think about the seventh inning stretch and Take me out to the Ball Game…or singing Auld Lang Syne on New Year’s Eve. Consider our National Anthem or any patriotic music; it helps give us a group identity and brings us together. This holds true for generational groups as well. Think about your parents music, or perhaps your grandparents music. Now think about how easily they are able to identify with others of the same generation when discussion music! Instant connections.
3. Music can heal.
There is an entire field – Music Therapy – dedicated to using music as a clinical method of addressing the cognitive, emotional, physical, and social needs of individuals. Most of us have no idea what that involves, so we will learn a bit more about Music Therapy next month from an active music therapist, but for now, here is Tim Ringgold’s TEDTalk on the subject.
Music possesses the power to express that which can’t be expressed through words alone. We can share our joy and our sorrow through song. We can work out frustration by banging out a rhythm on a drum. We grow, we laugh, we cry, all through the amazing power of music! Sure…music does improve math and skills, but that shouldn’t be the only reason we make music! The journey is just as rewarding as the destination – music for music’s sake. Stay tuned, friends! It’s going to be a great year!