I recently read an article from the Huffington Post regarding an issue I have been preaching since I started teaching music. The fact that music has to be justified in the public schools because it “helps improve test scores.” Yeah, sure it does, but it is valuable in its own right.
Over and over I have heard that music helps students learn in other areas of academia. Though that is true and I could site numerous studies that prove it, that is NOT why I teach music. The argument is valid, but should that be the reason we play or teach music? I for one don’t teach music so that Jimmy can pass a math test. I teach it so Jimmy can be a whole person full of creativity and passion. So Jimmy can express his inner most feelings and ideals in a creative and expressive way.
All that being said, music DOES promote a full brain workout. Not only does listening to music engage the brain in multiple ways, but PLAYING music creates a symphony (pun intended) of activity within the brain including visual, auditory and fine motor skills. It increases the activity in the bridge between the two hemispheres of the brain allowing nerve signals to move faster between the hemispheres. Consequently allowing musician to solve problems more creatively. Because playing an instrument requires complex skills, musicians can analyze situations more critically and memorize information efficiently. Now THAT is a full brain workout.
In theses days of the constant barrage of work, obligations and the sensory overload from news and social media it seems there is never time to just sit down and experience music for it’s own sake. No work. No distractions. No social media. Just music, in it’s purest form. When was the last time you spent an hour just listening to your favorite music or just playing a piece of music you love?
Like most of us, I lead an extremely busy life. There always seems to be something that I have to be doing or was suppose to be done yesterday so I put it as my priority for today, because what has to be done today can wait until tomorrow. Day in and day out I live this and see it manifest in my friends lives. Those precious moments of solitude that I can squeeze into my day are few and far between. If I have the luxury of playing my piano it is usually for an upcoming event that I am doing for someone else.
Sometimes we just need to stop. Just stop and put everything aside and give ourselves the time to make music our one and only focus. Music for it’s own sake. No upcoming performance to practice for. No rehearsal to go to. Just to listen. Just to play.
Our time for music.