Music of the Hemispheres

A recent post by Arlee Bird at tossing it out inspired me today.  I was trying to get caught up on my blog reading, and came across this post regarding the necessity of music programs in schools.  Take a minute to read if you like.

My reaction was to post this comment:

Education in the arts is important for cultural development. Not only does it expose students to the richness and diversity of their own culture, but music is a fantastic way to expose them to others as well. I belong to a music website where all the people come together to enjoy soundtracks, and a ton of them live halfway around the world. Yet we all have this in common, and we have become friends. We don’t need anything more to divide us; it’s a global community. Keep art and music education. Support it and fight for it.

Disclaimer: I don’t have any children but if I did, they WOULD have this. I would see to it. If the school couldn’t provide it, I would. It’s too important.

I’m a bit biased, being musical myself.  My mother plays the piano like a virtuoso and I grew up listening to Chopin, Grieg, Beethoven (my favorite) and a ton of other classical pieces.  I took piano lessons myself.   Sadly that seems to be something I’m destined never to master.  I studied vocal performance in college, although I didn’t graduate, since I minored in partying.  Ha!

I remember taking music classes in grade school.  It was required.  Our teacher held a talent show every year and under her iron rule, only her pets were chosen to perform.  I wasn’t one of them and was never picked.  But I loved music class despite her obvious contempt for me.  It was one place I excelled.  We listened to and played/sang all kinds of music, from classical to folk tunes from other lands.  I continued with choir in high school and college.  Some of my best memories from then are from choir performances at other schools and music contests.

We had exposure to rhythm and theory, all of which are good for developing brains.  Here is an article from the Harvard Gazette that, while kind of old, backs me up.  And from a 2007 article about a Stanford University study, “Music engages the brain over a period of time…and the process of listening to music could be a way that the brain sharpens its ability to anticipate events and sustain attention.”

What does music do for you?  I’m listening to my soundtrack channel right now.  It’s helping me think.  At the moment, an amazing piece by Serge Prokofiev is playing.  Classical finds its way into soundtracks, you know.  Platoon had Barbers Adagio for Strings, 10 had Ravel’s Bolero, and the list goes on.

When I listen, my body relaxes, my brain unwinds and my blood pressure surely drops.  I have a day job that has been slowly becoming more stressful over time.  When I come home, I listen to my music and chat with my online friends and I feel the day fall away from me.

It helps me concentrate while I write and evokes emotions that find their way into my prose.   I wrote the entire first draft of Rose’s Hostage while listening to the soundtrack of Black Hawk Down.  I have not seen that movie and now I don’t want to, because certain segments of the music are indelibly impressed on scenes from my book.  I also like to create playlists that mirror my characters; it helps me understand the workings of their minds.  It’s like that old game, “Boxers or Briefs?” where you guess what kind of underpants someone would wear.  What kind of music would this person like?  Why?  What does he/she hate and why?

How does music inspire you or enrich your life and art?  Do you have memories from school of music ed?  Please share in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Music of the Hemispheres

  1. I played violin as a child and consistently remained in first chair throughout that time. I was so disappointed when I moved to school districts that no longer offered orchestra and I basically stopped playing. My parents alway kept the house fillled with a good and varied selection of music.

    Have you seen the movie Eroica based on the first performance of Beethoven’s Symphony #3? If not I think you might enjoy it– I thought it was incredible. You can read my review on Amazon.

    Music has been a huge part of every aspect of my life.

    Tossing It Out

  2. I have not seen that; I love Beethoven so I guess I probably need to.

    I always wanted to learn the violin. I love the plaintive sound it can make.

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