Student Question

What is the importance of music in your life?

Quick answer:

The importance of music in your life will depend on your personal experience. You might play music at school or recreationally, use music to help you study, or simply enjoy listening to music for its ability to evoke memories or emotions.

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My entire extended family is musical--literally, all 27 of them.  I long ago figured out my role is audience.  I love music, I enjoy it when it's on, I appreciate it when it's done well, I worship to it in church, but I don't play it regularly in my home or my car or on my person.  I do play it in my classroom (soundtracks, no words) during work or quiet time, but that's about it.  I love what it does, which is move me, but I find I am more moved by words.

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Music, like the other fine arts, is what feeds the soul and touches the body, moving it.  Anyone who has grown up with a musically talented parent knows the tremendous part that music plays in one's memory.  And, anyone who has "been acquainted with the night" as Robert Frost put it, knows and can relate to the Blues. 

Music can fit our moods, as well.  I will always remember riding along with a friend years ago.  This friend loved hard rock, but he had  Johnny Cash's "Sunday Morning Coming Down" playing as I got into the car.  "What is this?" I asked. "You don't ever listen to Country Western; in fact, you loathe it!"

"Yeah, it's the strangest thing:  after breaking up with J____,it all seems to make sense now.  Anyway, I think I feel like Johnny did in this song," he replied.

Yes, sometimes we are in harmony with what music says and it talks to us, and pulls at our hearts in most unusual ways, nurturing, comforting, commiserating, exhilirating, soothing, strengthening us against the dark.  What would life be like without it?  Terribly cold and silent, indeed.

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The previous posts are all very accurate in their assertions about music.  Indeed, I agree that the appreciation of music can run the gambit from casual to serious to downright intense.  I think that I am of the mindset where appreciation of different genres of music is of vital importance to me.  I like to do an assignment with my students at the start of the year in analyzing playlists that they have developed on their iPod or MP3s.  In assessing or analyzing what is there, I ask my students to talk about what these collections or anthologies say about them and what they define as their "culture" or "cultures." It's really interesting for them to thumb through my iPod and assess my own tastes and likes in music.  They cannot get a handle on the classical playlist alongside the hardcore rap playlist which is right next to the movie soundtracks playlist.  The best they come up with is that there are different playlists to match the different temperaments or moods I might be experiencing and in understanding this, our discussion of contextuality becomes extremely important.

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In the world of education, it has been proven that reading music or playing an instrument (by ear) works a part of the brain that is not stimulated by anything else.  I've also heard a theory that reading music or playing an instrument is the one activity that when a brain is put under a scan, the entire thing lights up showing that music stimulates every part of the brain in some way.

I can't imagine a more powerful tool for growth and development in children.  As an educator, and now a parent, I think music is an essential element in a child's life.

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Music has always been a big part of my life. My mother played the clarinet and piano, and I took lessons on both instruments as a child. I later played in the junior and high school bands, earning a college scholarship (playing tenor and baritone saxophones). I also sang in my church choir and, later, several college choruses. Having always liked many types of music, I accumulated a large record collection and then an even bigger collection of CDs. I have attended many record shows in the U. S. and in Europe, and still sell collectible CDs regularly on eBay. I attend as many live concerts as time (and money) permits, so the interest that was passed on from my mother has continued for most of my life.

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I too have several members of my family who are far more educated and versed in various types of music, one who makes a profession out of singing in choral groups, etc., so I've received some training from them along with many years of practice and a little performance on several different instruments.

But, I would say that for me the most important thing that music does is remind me of certain things, whether they are feelings or thoughts or even events and people from the past.  I really enjoy hearing something that is entertaining, but it is even more fun to hear something I haven't in a while and remember the people I was with or that were in my life at the time I last heard that particular song, etc.

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Music is not nearly as important in my life as it is in the lives of many people in my family.  For example, my little brother and his wife care about music enough that they make time in their lives to play in a marching band even now that they are adults.

My relationship with music is much more casual.  I just listen to various kinds of popular musics that I enjoy.  I occasionally listen to "classical" stuff like "New World" by Dvorak.  But I do not really listen to that kind of thing with true understanding.  I am just a casual listener who enjoys music but does not really understand it at any kind of a deep level.

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