We’ve all heard that music is a universal language, and even if it sounds cliché, in many ways it is true. Music is everywhere, both within us and around us, and it serves many roles. It’s used by all people and affects them in countless ways. At the gym, in the car, in a movie, at celebrations and funerals, music adds another dimension to an experience. It intensifies emotions: it boosts energy at the gym, adds suspense to a movie scene, and accentuates feelings of joy and sadness at weddings and funerals.
Everywhere in the world, music is a part of daily life. If music is such a fundamental part of daily life, around the world, for all people, why then would it be considered “extra”-curricular? It is used in prayer, in thanks, in celebration, and in mourning; a national anthem, a work song, a folk song, a celebration song, a game song, a spiritual song, a lullaby, and a dance tune are all examples of music serving a significant role. And while forms of music may vary regionally and culturally, a listener can still feel the purpose and energy of the message. This is what gives music its universality. Music expresses what words sometimes can’t and unites people in a way other activities don’t.
While active, engaged music-making remains a core part of daily life in cultures around the world, music has a more passive role in America. Here we’ve decided that some are “musical” and some are not. While communities are gathered in song and dance in Africa, Europe and Asia, we are more likely to attend performances rather than participate. With buds plugged into our ears or satellite radio on, it’s harder and harder to find families, friends, and children gathered around the piano singing songs together. Children wind up missing these participatory experiences in the early years, which leads to less interest, confidence and ability to engage in music-making later in life.
Is there a correlation between our interest in music-making and the amount of exposure and experience we’ve had? I’d argue so. Additionally, the type of feedback we receive from others affects our likelihood to engage. If we’ve been told we are “tone deaf,” or “more athletic than musical,” are we inclined to pursue music? In this blog, we hope to offer many arguments in favor of music education, as well as explore theories, philosophies and best practices within the field. But first let’s acknowledge the universality that is music. Regardless of origin, class, race, music is our language. If it can bring us together, even a little bit, why wait another day? Everyone is born with an ability to make music, and it’s never too early or too late to start.
Justine Chadly, M.A., is the owner of In Harmony Music in the San Francisco Bay Area. With degrees in music performance and music education, her focus is early childhood music education. In Harmony Music provides music making opportunities for all ages with an emphasis on strengthening community through music.
To learn more about our classes and offerings in the Bay Area, please visit our website🙂