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Music is the ultimate art form. There are other art forms that people use to express themselves and they’re all great, I have embraced many of them. But when you really think about it, how many people go to the Met and walk out saying, “I don’t get art.” How many people have two left feet on the dance floor? Rubbing up against each other in a nightclub is not considered an example of dance as an art form; I don’t care how sweet your moves are. I’m referring to the real stuff- ballet, tap, salsa, waltz- all the great dance styles they show on Dancing with the Stars (isn’t that how we non-dancers learn the names of these dances anyway?) How many of us really enjoy writing and consider it to be our art and how many actually like to read the works of others?
Obviously the sap writing this eBook does but that’s another story for another eBook. But back to my point- music. Music is one of the most popular forms of entertainment- listening to it, making it, learning about it and buying it. There’s a reason why Pandora is so popular- it’s because people love music. Music speaks for us, makes us move, inspires us, makes us fall in love, provides memory triggers if it’s playing during important moments in our lives and it makes us happier people. If that’s not enough for you, music has about 100 Facebook pages dedicated to it!
MUSIC AND THE COLLEGE STUDENT
College can be a very difficult time in a person’s life. There’s worrying about keeping up with classes, worrying about being broke, worrying about relationships, and worrying about the fact that you worry so much. The average college student spends the majority of their time stressing out and the rest of their time doing everything they can to keep themselves sane. For any kind of chronic worrier, like college students for example, it is generally recommended that people take time to do activities that help clear the mind and alleviate stress. Music is one of those things that can temporarily alleviate stress by releasing endorphins, or the happy chemicals in your brain. It can create the same effect that a good jog can. It clears the mind, thus allowing you to think a lot clearer. Professor John Kizzie, and English professor and guitar instructor at the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown, New Jersey has worked with many students over the years and has been a firsthand witness to the benefits that college students can gain from listening and learning to play music.
“In an immediate sense, a student gets exercises in focus and concentration. To sit with music and an instrument, means, like reading, you are intellectually engaged in an activity. You can concentrate more because it is a skill needed to focus on the music and guiding your fingers in a way that changes from song to song.
Listening skills improve, too. Hopefully, as a student practices she can listen with intent to what she is playing. That skill can carry over into the classroom and in personal conversations,” Kizzie said.
Among the many positive effects that Kizzie discussed, one aspect sums truly reinforces what I have learned in my experience with learning music.
He said, “I believe students get a better understanding of what it takes to excel at skills like playing music; therefore, there, too, will be a greater appreciation of the concert artist. Students will see that even something that seems as fun and easy as “making music” actually takes a great deal of time. Then, hopefully, they can transfer that to whatever field in which they are striving. Every person who achieves greatness – in any field- is bolstered by years and years of hard work and training. The reward is getting to make a living doing work that looks like it is fun and easy to others.”
He added, “Humility, too, comes with trying to play a musical instrument. In a time when every one has an opinion, and we have talk show hosts and politicians who are “never” wrong, learning to play an instrument is humbling. Sometimes we sound badly, and that means we need to work more at something. We can’t be perfect or right all the time as learners. Here lies the crux of all of this, too. In Buddhism, there is a concept known as the “beginner’s” or “learner’s” state of mind. Quickly, it means if we all stayed open minded in all that we do, we would continually learn and grow, without preconceptions. Learning to play a musical instrument can do this for us, too. We learn to learn, with the intent to understand the nature of the instrument and to always get better at playing it.”
By Janet Reyes
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