To celebrate National Arts in Education Week, we’re honored to highlight the work of an outstanding North Carolina music educator, Justin Johnson, and his talented chorus at South Caldwell High School. When asked why he believes music education is vital, Mr. Johnson explained, “Music Education is Whole-child education. It not only deals with academics such as history, English, math, anatomy but also deals with life, leadership, teamwork, respect, organization and a list of other great attributes. What I’m trying to say is music improves and saves lives. There is NOTHING equatable to music education, that’s why we need it.”
"Music is the greatest communication in the world. Even if people don't understand the language that you're singing in, they still know good music when they hear it." - Lou Rawls, American singer, composer, and record producer.
It's true: we do know good music when we hear it. Sure, our opinions on what sounds "good" will differ. That's a given. As humans, we have unique personalities, appearances, shapes, sizes, skin colors, perceptions, thoughts, backgrounds, means of communication; the list goes on.
Interestingly, our opinions on music and aesthetics can be as different as our voices and communication styles. In his online course Music as Biology, Duke University professor Dale Purves explains that we respond to music because the brain receives the sound stimuli the same way it receives verbal communication. Literally, music speaks. (And we can "speak" through music, too!)
Why do certain pieces of music resonate with us, while others don't? Let's take a moment to think about what it is we are thinking or feeling right now. If we're getting pumped up for, let's say, a sports event or a night out, something up-tempo would probably feel exactly right. If we're settling down for bed, or feeling sad, that exact same song - the upbeat one - just might not do it for us. It's not that we don't like that song; the song just might not send the message we're needing to hear in that moment. The communication is off.
At different times of day, when we're in different moods or operating at different energy levels, it may be beneficial to keep our minds open to new forms of communication. New styles of music. New producers. New composers.
If we think of contrasting musical genres or styles as different "languages," maybe we can develop an understanding of a communication style that we might not understand right away. Kind of like learning a new language.
It's worth a try, right?