what can music teach us?

Jazz is about the only form of art existing today in which there is this freedom of the individual without the loss of group contact.

—Dave Brubeck

During my childhood, the world experienced the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., and the Vietnam War. It was a challenging time in our history and the world that I grew up in.

I would often sneak away from all the noise, sit in the closet in my home, and grab my sister’s red guitar with the white tuning knobs. She did not know I wanted to play it, so I had to sneak in her room and sit in the closet and play.

Finally, one day, she found me, and she realized she was never going to play that little red guitar, so she let me have it … in more ways than one. Since that time, I have not had to sneak her guitar, and I fell in love with learning to play. Music has taught me many things: the discipline of practice, playing fairly with friends, how to listen, how to connect with others, and how to have fun.

I joined a band with some friends, and one of them was a fantastic guitar player, and I then realized that to stay in the group, I had to learn to play the bass guitar and up my game; I had to learn to practice in a whole new way.

When playing the guitar, I simply played chords and rhythms, and practice was more casual. Taking up the bass forced me to realize the structure of the song and the foundation, and it dawned on me that I had to find a new approach to practicing the bass. And, this experience has laid the foundation for what music has taught me my entire life.

Music has taught me many things: the discipline of practice, playing fairly with friends, how to listen, how to connect with others, and how to have fun.

What I have come to learn is that music has a compounding effect, like investing money and receiving interest. When you spend time studying music, practicing, rehearsing with others, and performing, music will have a powerful effect on reshaping your brain and enhancing your ability to think.

Music is like a sage advisor. It is a gift that we have been given. It can shape who we are and how we relate to each other, and it will enhance our abilities and develop our minds. More than anything, music connects us.

Music brings us together. It helps us to relate to one another in a way that nothing else can. Music has the power to heal.

10 things music can teach us about life if we are willing to listen:

1. Our relationships with each other define us, and we accomplish more by working together. Music creates a social environment that allows us to engage and collaborate while transcending our cultural biases.

2. We have other forms of communication other than words. Music allows us to communicate in nonverbal ways that can reach into our very souls.

3. Life is finite. Life, like music, has a beginning and an end. To truly enjoy life, we must appreciate the journey, smell the roses, and reflect on our experiences. Listening to music allows us to enjoy the ride of where the music wants to take us. We get to relish in its sounds, tones, and melodies and reflect on how it makes us feel.

4. The only consistency in life is change. Your previous life experiences shape the way you view current and future events. Music that you have listened to in the past will sound different and have a different meaning in the future because you have changed and gained new perspectives.

5. Objects in life can be symbolic and represent other things. With music, we get to decide for ourselves what the music means. Each person can have their interpretation of what the music means to them. It is up to us to give it a meaning for ourselves.

6. In the same way that a piece of music can be interpreted by a different artist and performed in different ways, the same idea can be understood and produce different outcomes.

7. Music has the power to make us happy, sad, mad, or glad by the tone, pitch, and melody of the song. Other people can, in the same way, affect our emotions and outlook.

8. Hearing theme music from one of our favorite TV shows alerts us to what is coming on next. Because we are familiar with the melody, we are confident that we understand what is happening. Listening to music that we are familiar with is like developing habits; the more we repeatedly do something, the more comfortable we become with it.

9. Music also alerts us to the power of change. When we hear an unusual tone or rhythm, we become aware of a change in the song. In life, when we experience something different or unique, we recognize it as a potential change, and the new experience reminds us that change is the only constant in life.

10. Finally, music teaches us the power of perspective. When we hear different instruments playing and interacting around the same melodic phrase or tune, we are listening to different perspectives of a song. The instruments have a conversational approach, and we are reminded of the process of sharing, discussing, and being in a dialog with others. It is through the process of exchanging ideas and conversations that we explore, learn, and grow. Music reminds us of our need to be open to different perspectives because it expands our mental horizons.