Why is music important to you? You may have several answers, or it may be difficult to be able to actually come up with a series of words that can accurately describe what it is that makes music significant. It may be as simple as the fact that it makes you happier, or it may only be explained as something that assuages a yearning.
I personally have a laundry list of reasons why music must be in my life, but one of the biggest reasons is that it gives me a place in society. Not only do I identify myself as a musician and composer, but also I feel like I am in on some sort of secret that only other musicians understand. I can play music with others, share my works with people, and even just attend a musical event and feel as if I belong to something bigger than myself. As Daniel Levitin writes in This is Your Brain on Music, “Collective music making may encourage social cohesions—humans are social animals, and music may have historically served to promote feelings of group togetherness and synchrony.”[i] Larry Parsons, a neuroscientist, did an experiment on how the brain reacts when musicians play together and discovered that the areas of the brain controlling phrasing, coordination, and cognitive and emotional interaction were more active when the musicians played together rather than alone. He concludes, “Music is intrinsically social.”[ii]
Unfortunately, there are many reasons why music no longer has a premier place in many people’s lives. Lack of music funding prevents many kids from being involved in music. The ability to download music for free gives many people the idea that they shouldn’t have to pay for music, which in turn leaves many musicians without much income; this puts many musicians in a position to decide whether to “get a real job” (something that pays well), rather than following their calling. As discussed in my first blog entry, “The Gap,” many technologies have caused a disconnect between composers and performers and musicians and audiences.
Music has the potential to bring people closer together. “Music’s original functions of underlining the significance of public events and promoting social solidarity continue to this day,” states Anthony Storr, “those who engage in [music] know that making music together is an irreplaceable way of achieving closeness.”[iii] Let’s share why music is important to us and strengthen the bond that music creates.
By Anna Brake
Get ideas on how to bring more music into your life in Music Trends of the 21st Century
[i] Daniel J. Levitin, This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession (New York: Dutton, 2006), 252.
[ii] Elena Mannes, The Power of Music: Pioneering Discoveries in the New Science of Song, (New York: Walker & Company, 2011), 38.
[iii] Anthony Storr, Music and the Mind, (New York: Free Press, 1992), 108.