Monday, November 29, 2010

My Musical Dream

If a composer could say what he had to say in words he would not bother trying to say it in music. 
Gustav Mahler

Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without. 

Music is everybody's possession. It's only publishers who think that people own it.
John Lennon 

Kids Playing Drums: Inman Park Festival, Atlanta, Georgia, April 2007.
Photo Credit: rustytanton,
 I am a writer, so I believe in the power of words to inform, inspire and unite people. Yet, as powerful as words are, I believe music is the highest creative act that can bring humanity together. Music's language is universal, and it is not bound by any nationality, culture or people. Music has and does bring humanity together. That is one reason why I like to have a good number of my postings dedicated to music I love and enjoy.

Music's power lies, I believe, in touching the hearts and souls of people, stripping away all pretense and the masks of indifference and inhumanity. Just look at the faces of people at a concert where the most hardened politicians and businesspeople are in attendance. A piece of music can pull at the heartstrings, and can bring a tear to their eyes. Whether you think such is pure emotionalism or sentimentalism is not as important as the beauty and power that music holds. I think you would agree with that sentiment.

Children love music, both to hear and play. I have always known this, but the idea was inchoate until a few weeks ago. My daughter and her husband came to our home to celebrate my birthday, and they both love music. My son-in-law, who is a fine musician, brought along a couple of drums and his acoustic guitar. He started to play the guitar, and my two sons, aged eight and two, started playing the drums.

Before we knew it, we had a jam session, and the children were laying down a nice rhythm, keeping up with the improvisation. I was both  impressed and amazed by it all. It was the best birthday gift that I could have had. It was not something that I had imagined happening. Which shows you that my imagination needs less management and more freedom to roam.

That is when my idea was born, so to speak. I have a very modest dream: to open a school where poor students would learn and play music. I do not have the money or the means to do this at the moment. But I keep this dream alive, in hope that some day this dream will become a reality. (Perhaps some millionaire or billionaire is reading this and wants to invest in this noble idea.)

I would like to share this dream with you, my readers. I believe that music is one of the chief means of uniting people, and, equally important, it gives joy and meaning to humanity. While many schools are placing emphasis on math, sciences and technology, the arts and music have been almost forgotten. Yet, can you imagine a world without music?

Equally important, music has many benefits, including helping to young people achieve better results academically, emotionally and socially, say Jovanka Ciares and Paul Borgese  in The Benefits of Music on Child Development:

With the rise of the Internet and the proliferation of high-tech jobs that require computer skills, there seems to be less interest in music and arts education. Fortunately, while all this is happening, several studies by experts in the field are demonstrating that studying the arts — particularly music — can actually help develop skills necessary when learning about computers.

Several studies by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which is based at Brown University, explored the effects of art and music education on young children's learning. The conclusions of these studies support the theory that music instruction can help build intellectual and emotional skills, facilitate children's learning and strengthen other academic areas, such as reading and math. Also, these studies indicate that music can positively affect children and adults of all ages.
In addition, for those who like studies and academic papers on music's efficacy, Children's Music Workshop, has a wonderful site dedicated to music programs. It can give you a lot of supporting information on why music is important for children's development and education

As for my modest musical dream, I am thinking of naming the school after one of my musical heroes, John Lennon. It might have a name like the John Lennon School of Music.

As I envision it in my idealistic manner, the school would teach children to play all kinds of music: rock, blues, classical, jazz, klezmer, among the many other musical styles that the world offers us. The chief idea is to bring joy and hope to children, who often lack the means for both.

The school's theme song might be John Lennon's Imagine:

Imagine there's no countries,
it isn't hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
and no religion too,
Imagine all the people,
living life in peace.

You may say I'm a dreamer,
but I'm not the only one,
I hope someday you'll join us,
and the world will be as one.

Living in unity and harmony is a good, if not great, idea. Such ideals are deemed impossible only by people who don't want that to ever happen, for reasons that essentially come down to a poverty of imagination and an animus to happiness. All the great beneficial discoveries and creative efforts in history were not only initially met with skepticism and outright hostility, but were done by people who had a dream and a vision. They progressed forward despite the apparent obstacles.

I press forward in my modest way. The school would be a non-profit institution. It's a dream for now. I hope that one day it will become a reality, and that children will start making beautiful music together. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

I would like to hear your thoughts or views on this.

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