Before Discussion of Instruments and Technique

Before discussion of various musical technique and supporting attitude helps to learn to play music, another important question needs some attention. This question comes from the individual(s) who’s experience making music is limited.

Their time with music as they think and feel is passive, they are the listener. Sometimes, they don’t even listen much. They may dance to music, but when pressed into making music they react negatively or defensively. These individuals do not play an instrument or sing. They listen and may have a few favorite groups or songs. For the most part, though comfortable with where they are, they are limited in their engagement with or even alienated from music for a myriad of reasons. How does this discussion pertain to them?

Their brain structure, for one thing. Music is in our DNA, whether practiced or not, and it is the single most complex activity we know of to date that we do. Many areas for processing music are separate and distinct; even in the auditory cortex there is a dedicated area for music alone.

Music effects us all. Only a very tiny part of the population is unable to process one or more aspects of music, maybe as little as 0.05% are what we term “tone deaf.” Music effects us all one way or another.

When using the brain musically, coordination between the two main parts of the brain requires the use of the corpus callosum, the connecting tissue between the two hemispheres. This occurs whenever listening to music or making it to varying degrees. Autopsies on musicians show a larger corpus callosum than in the normal population, evidence that music changes the brain. The connective tissue helps coordination of the brain, communications between parts of the brain; its size dependent upon its use. Greater facility communicating within the brain improves our living skills. Living is enhanced by musical activity. Many skills developed experiencing music in its many ways transfer to other activities, when applied.

Spiritual, social (even in times of war,) joyful, comforting, knowledge, and love songs effect our lives daily as we hear from the radio, our sound systems, in public settings, and by our own making. Store music encourages our readiness to make purchases. Church music sends us out with courage for the following week, or with comfort for a lost loved one. In both instances and with countless others, our body dynamics and chemistry change from our involvement with music, either actively as in making music, or passively as in listening. Spiritual songs reach our deepest feelings, in social settings, such as after church, we often gather for coffee and find ourselves more able and ready to talk with others, perhaps after a week of withdrawal. These are influences from music we hardy notice, yet the skills of living involved are profound.

Music requires use of movement, intellect, emotional intelligence, social skills; there is a long list of by products or transferable skills from the experience. The more engaged, the longer the list.

This should be an obvious statement as we use music so ubiquitously: radio, TV, CD, DVD, public events, ceremony, spiritually, socially, politically and in each instance we use skills needed and necessary for living well. Here find just a short list for now, to make a point.

Music satisfies something within us: something we find ourselves unable to express in words. So, instead of defending your limited musical awareness, or creating an engaging argument full of reasons for resisting music activity, or regarding how little music effects your quality of living, look at the skills music helps to develop within all of us passive or active musicians to one degree or another.

Leave your fears that others make music because of your own lack of talent (discussed later on). Your low musical self esteem may be a product of a misunderstanding. Your disinterest in “being a musician” or in understanding the value of music in your life may stem from reasons which limit you. Bad experiences in elementary school music education can influence for an entire lifetime, for example. Often, I hear stories of students who suffered from teachers telling them they have no talent, or are tone deaf, when these are actually rare occurrences. Or, because a person seems to have less affinity towards music at an early age, they are marginalized. Again, this is a mistake of the ignorant. Open your hearts and minds to the possibility that music, sound, effects you profoundly and you can learn to enjoy life even more, even live life in healthier ways through the experience of music.

This post only opens the door, hopefully, it piques the mind of both the skeptical and dedicated to read on. Subsequent posts deal with such things as the analogy that learning music making offers to general living technique and how transferable skills from music making develop within us. Through examples in teaching we will examine the theory of my first post, now hopefully within more context for most if not all of us.

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