Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Why Take Music?

As a musician and a music teacher, I get really annoyed when other people devalue my subject.  It upsets me when school administrators see music as a "stress reliever" class to provide students with a break between the "real" classes.  I was very happy to find this article which sums up my feelings on why music has intrinsic value.  Next time I have to justify my subject to an administrator, I'll use this.  Thanks, Dr. Tim!

"Why Take Music? (By:  Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser)

Music is a science
It is exact, specific, and it demands exact acoustics.  A conductor's full score is a chart, a graph which indicates frequencies, intensities, volume changes, melody, and harmony all at once and with the most exact control of time.

Music is Mathematical
It is rhythmically based on the subdivisions of time into fractions which must be done instantaneously, not worked out on paper.

Music is a foreign language
Most of the terms are in Italian, German, or French; and the notation is certainly not English - but a highly developed kind of shorthand that uses symbols to represent ideas.  The semantics of music is the most complete and universal language.

Music is history
Music usually reflects the environment and times of its creation, often even the country and/or racial feeling.

Music is physical education
It requires fantastic coordination of fingers, hands, arms, lips, cheeks, and facial muscles; in addition to extraordinary control of the diaphragmatic, back, stomach, and chest muscles, which responds instantly to the sound the ear hears and the mind interprets.

Music is all these things, but most of all, Music is art
It allows a human being to take all these dry, technically boring (but difficult) techniques and use them to create emotion.  That is one thing science cannot duplicate:  humanism, feeling, emotion, call it what you will.

Not because you are expected to major in music
Not because you are expected to play or sing all your life
Not so you can relax
Not so you can have fun

BUT - so you will be human
           so you will recognize beauty
           so you will be sensitive
           so you will be closer to an infinite beyond this world
           so you will have something to cling to
           so you will have more love, more compassion, more gentleness, more good - in short, more life.

Of what value will it be to make a prosperous living unless you know how to live?


If you have ever studied music or played an instrument, you have done all of the above things.  It kills me when school systems want to cut the arts.  Kids need this!  Did you know studies show that students who are involved in their school music program have higher test scores than the students who aren't?  I don't think this is a coincidence. 


  1. And don't forget about the improved self confidence of the child as they practice and learn a piece to perform

  2. Yes, that is true! The confidence then spills over into other areas too.

  3. Here's a wonderful talk which reinforces the theme of the value of the humanities:

    It's well worth the hour.

  4. Thanks, Philippe! I'll have to check it out.