Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Music All Around Us

If you take a minute out of your day to stop and listen - what do you hear? It's very rare that you hear nothing. If you were at my house right now, you'd hear me listening to the Dave Matthews Band play a concert through my computer speakers. Earlier I was out on a bike ride, listening to my favorite workout mix on my iPhone. When I got back, you may have heard me trying to learn a new song on the piano, or maybe strumming away on my guitar. Later tonight you'd probably hear the town's state championship marching band practicing for their upcoming performances. What does it sound like where you are? Is your neighbor in the cubicle next door listening to a radio station? Maybe you're about to leave work and are looking forward to listening to a new CD on the way home. Maybe you went to a concert last weekend and are still humming some of the tunes they played. If you really stop and listen, you can hear the music all around us.

Music does so many things for different people. It expresses our emotions - love, anger, sadness, joy. You can use music to entertain guests, relax after a long day, tell someone how you feel, get pumped up for the big game, you can even use it to walk down the aisle when you get married. It's really the modern day poetry.

What's even better than listening to music in your car or on an iPod is listening to a live concert. Whether it be a huge amphitheatre with 40,000 people, a local band at the neighborhood bar, or just a few people gathered around a street musician - there's nothing I love more than watching someone play.

Recently the Washington Post did an experiment with a violin player. They put him in a Washington DC Metro Station. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, over 1,000 people passed by him. Most paid very little attention to this "street performer" that many probably thought was just trying to earn a buck. Little did the people walking by him know that this was world famous musician Joshua Bell playing some of the most intricate musical pieces ever written on a $3.5 million violin. Two days prior to this experiment, Mr. Bell had performed at a sold out theatre in Boston where the tickets averaged $100. Just the other day, I was running through an airport and heard a couple of people in the gate area playing a guitar and violin. If my flight hadn't been leaving in 2 minutes, I would love to have stopped and heard them play. Who knows, maybe it was a world famous musician and I didn't have the time to listen. Makes me wonder what else I've been missing.

Listening to music is one thing, playing it is an entirely different thing - it's an art. A little over a year ago, I started taking guitar lessons. For me, it was something that I had always wanted to learn. I soon realized that it was more than learning a new instrument though, it was almost like learning a new language. It engaged different parts of the brain and allowed me to escape from whatever was bothering me on that particular day.

Thomas Edison has said of music: "Of all the various forms of entertainment in the home, I know of nothing that compares with music. It is safe and sane; appeals to all the fine emotions; tends to bind family influences with a wholesomeness that links old and young together. If you will stop to consider how the old songs are loved in all the homes, you will realize what a deep hold music has on the affections of the people."

I don't think it could be put any better than that.

No comments: