Guest author and professional visual artist Simon Reich gives his personal perspective…
Being a visual artist myself, I have to reluctantly admit that it’s quite possible that the general populace of the world could live without paintings, sculpture and visual art. But I severely doubt the people on this planet could live without music.
What is it about structured or unstructured sounds and rhythms that has been around since earliest civilisations?
In fact animals and birds have been producing musical sounds way before man ever walked the earth. Australian aborigines play music today that dates back many 1,000’s of years, yet remains relevant in today’s modern world.
Twelfth century compositions are still played and listened to daily. In fact music is so interwoven into all different societies across this planet, that a day without it almost seems an impossibility. Words, in any language, can only go so far. Expressing emotion is not always an easy task, but music can really assist that voice. Maybe that’s the reason it’s so embedded in human culture.
Having occasionally scored music for films, it is patently obvious that without a soundtrack, movies would be a very flat cinematic experience. Nothing emphasises emotion, pathos, elation, grief and a myriad of emotions, like music can bring to the silver screen.
Basically, I would propose that now mankind has used and experienced music for thousands of years, if it were to be taken away, we would all be the poorer for it; and my feeling is, the fabric of society would begin to unravel without its influence.
The important role of musicians in the production of their sounds can be approached from many different angles. Some use scientific means, some improvise, some read printed notes, some have no knowledge of their instruments and yet others are so deeply in tune with their instruments that they know the sound that will be produced before they hit the key or string. Some play for audiences of thousands and others only for themselves. As there are many varied approaches to music making, there are also many varied tastes and styles and this gives music its amazingly broad appeal.
Apart from the great joy, solace, healing and release music that can bring to the actual musician, music in a social context is quite a responsibility that musicians and teachers alike exert.
Whether we perform or instruct, we are influencing a broad range of society, especially considering the dearth of the live music scene.
(That’s another whole article in itself. Young children who visit my home, often wonder what the piano against the wall in my lounge room is for… not really comprehending the relationship between hitting, plucking or strumming an instrument to produce the music they hear on TV and radio.)
We are allowing people to find things in our music that enable them to express emotions & feelings that may not have been possible using words alone.
I know in my own favourite listening catalogue of music, various tunes give me the release I need to relax, find joy, revel in my melancholy, escape, feel anger in a controlled way, and way too many emotions to list here. Suffice to say, it performs a much needed role in my life. I am lucky enough to be able to get in touch with these emotions through both playing and listening.
With music being such an important part of our social fabric, we as musicians are custodians of a precious gift to mankind, both now and in the future generations who we currently teach or influence.
As Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars said, although not specifically addressing musicians & teachers, “May The Force be with you!”