Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Motion of Music

What is the effect of music on our lives? What would they be like without it? For those of us who don't play an instrument, what are we missing?

Music is an extremely important part of my life. Imagine my chagrin when I started to notice my hearing getting worse! Thankfully, it seems like my ears are getting better now that I am no longer around long noises. But that thought- idea- has stuck with me.

Let me ask you a question- if you had the choice between hearing and seeing, what would you choose? Now that's a tough decision which- thankfully- none of us will ever have to make. But what would we miss with either sense? With the eyes, it would be colors, those high-powered action sequences on TV, etc. But think of sound. How much more do we miss without it? Close your eyes (mentally) and listen to the room around you. Listen to people moving around, to the TV blaring with impassioned words thick with emotion, to the music that your sister plays when she's sad.... Think of this- what is more useful to you in a dark alley before you are attacked: your ears or your eyes?

All of the above aside, how does music affect our bodies and souls? Relaxing music can sooth stress and encourage our bodies to heal themselves. Heavy metal tears away at our calm exterior and exposes the raw intensity inside (not saying that's always a good thing), often making us feel and feed the anger inside. Some jazz can be slightly depressing, feeding our sad feelings while either providing relief or compounding our sadness into depression. A good composer is so good that he can make you feel how he wants you to. And since we can close our eyes, but we can't close our ears, that's power.

Now, for those of us who don't play an instrument, what does this mean for us? How does it affect us? Well, according to Luke Russell's book How to Jam- A Guide to Playing Music By Ear, music encourages creativity and analytic thinking. Basically, it's good for your brain! And think of it this way- playing an instrument is a release for your emotions. Some people may be able to do that through singing. But what if you hate your voice? Or what if singing just isn't enough? Maybe you are drawn to a certain sound of a specific instrument, but have been told you don't have any talent. Something about me that you may not know is that I played the piano for somewhere around three years. I didn't have people telling me I wasn't any good, but I began to catch on when I was in the same "level" for a couple of years. And then my piano teacher retired- permanently. And I found out she felt bad because my younger sister was about to pass me up. Anyway, the point is, I didn't have any natural talent. But according to Mr. Russell, I was taught all wrong. I was taught the mechanics, but not the... well, I guess you could call it the soul of it.

If you feel like giving up because you aren't any good, here's my suggestion: read this book first. And then throw all of the gentle criticisms of  loving family and friends out the window. Play for you and you alone. (Ok, you can play for God, too.) Music was meant for emotional release. David used music in the Psalms for the same thing. Honestly, some of his lyrics may not be the most amazing you've ever heard. But they came from the heart. Think of yourself like a modern David. You just want to show God your heart.

And that's what I'm going to do. If I want to sing, I'm going to sing. Even if I think my voice sounds funny. If I want to play the bass, I'm playing it. It's not about becoming the next American Idol winner or about amazing my friends. It's all about getting those feelings out there.

Because it's not healthy holding them inside.

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