We were made for hard work.
Human beings are designed to carry out difficult tasks and sort through information and relate to one another with complex signals. Physically, we are weaker than many animals around us. Imagine if the wasps gathered and decided to rule the world – we’d run scared from our homes. But they can’t. We can, and I hope we do with grace and finesse, rule the world. But our bodies and large brains are made for processing and growing and learning.
“Not just watching a screen”, I say with my best dad voice. “Get out there and do something!” Seriously, we need something to challenge our coordination and development mentally, emotionally, and physically, which is why academics and sports and music all create larger opportunities for people for long term growth and success. Music practice makes one stronger, really. When you develop the resolve to rehearse over passivity, practice for hours on detailed, complex figures, and create nuance with developed skills, you are growing and becoming more of a ruler of your world.
It is hard work to be a musician.
More on that later on in my series, but for now I will leave you with the thoughts that young people everywhere are becoming smarter, stronger, more resilient, and more capable every day through music practice. I share a photo this week of one who goes beyond the basics every week and practices skill and feel and power until he is ready. His life is better with drums and I believe we all could use some more calculated practice of music for our sanity and life.
I have music playing in my head.
Ever since I was a little boy, I would hear musical lines and melodies and rhythms playing in my head. Taken from the environment, taken from natural sounds, taken from conversations and ideas around me, I would pursue those musical and lyrical ideas and start stinging songs about them. And I would sing pop songs and get stuck on “earworm” melodies (although I have a perfect solution to getting stuck on a song – ask me when you see me next), and drum on the table until mom made me stop. And again. And again. I just have had music flowing in my head and I can pull down Samuel Barber or King’s X or Future at any time easily. I’m “musical”.
But not everyone has music just playing on a mental tape in their head and those people are called “weird”. Just kidding, but you like to have music playing when you work. Oh, how you kill me but I get it. Music is important and if you don’t have it, you want to hear it. I have come to understand that music helps you to focus on something as the brain locks into something familiar and comforting. My blog talks about this often and the science backs it up. But my comfort is internal and I work well in silence.
Do you love silence and work better with no music? Further study forming here.
For the sake of today’s blog, I’ll just stick to the MUSIC BRINGS FOCUS theme and say that no matter what your style or genre or artist (can you really work to that music?), we all need a focal point for our brain to concentrate and music causes me to focus on it rather than my work. So, I am that musician that focuses for many hours a day in silence. Strange. Music moves me greatly and I respond quickly when I do hear it. I become more sensitized maybe. It has been said that music is as much about the space as the notes. I agree.
The silence you see in me is offset by the mental tape and space I enjoy inside me.
Take a quiet break sometime too and maybe, just maybe, put in some earbuds (person sitting next to me at dinner).
That Casio keyboard belonged in the trash.
Some music is timeless and elicits a special reaction every time you hear it. It has been heard before and it has been set in many movies and events and even commercials. It becomes the standard theme you hear when a type of event occurs, a true theme of life at basketball games, school functions, campaigns, and ads. You might think “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, but I’m talking about “Carmina Burana” from Carl Orff or Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyrie”. Music is used to inspire, honor, excite, or create a mood. No matter if you are surrounded by popular music or music from a bygone era of the classical period, we are inspired daily by “keep up the good fight” themes in music. Why is that?
So much of life is difficult.
I was listening to the soundtrack an old 80s movie this week and when the passion was really desperately needed, they resorted to scoring ancient horns and orchestra and when the evil or mysterious things were happening, it was moody and electronic modern movie soundtrack music with ambling melody and the latest synths of the time. I could not help but notice that we need directive and powerful music to cut through the noise of daily doldrums and dawdling days. We need the power of the large ensemble. We need the community of the many instrumentalists playing together, the big choir, and the loud marching group.
We need music to focus us on those heroic and powerful actions we take in giving of ourselves to others, serving a bigger vision than our self, and caring for other human beings physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. We need our big themes and to recognize that for inspiration and action – music is important.
Music is Important 10 We encourage children to sing and dance. We know that their focus on singing and expressing their natural inhibition when dancing and performing are good for their energy release, self-esteem in accomplishment (especially if cared for and encouraged by parents and adults), and building up their brain with music and motion. But what do we do with a really talented kid?
I watched the unflappable Ashley Marina on America’s Got Talent a week ago because a friend of mine manages her artistic development as an 11 year old from Pittsburgh. She’s very talented and incredibly sweet but something deeper is there. She does not project her fear, she exudes confidence and calmly adapts to incredibly stressful situations around her music and with a high level of professionalism. Some of this you cannot teach, but you nurture it in the family, in the friend groups, and in the professional artist development cycle.
I invite you to watch her here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8naCiB4CLzU
Ashley does choose some songs that don’t feature her voice well quickly enough for a competition like this. Simon pushes her when the crowd is ready to accept her talent alone. But he pushes her into a place where she can really shine – adaptability and personal emotive experience. The result is a Father’s Day gift for everyone.