How Does Music Help?

Can you imagine your life without music? When I ask that question of others, the responses tend to fall into two distinct groups.

One type of mind that focuses on the word “music” and interprets the question as, ‘what would the world be like if I didn’t hear music on television, in movies, at sporting events, on the internet’ and on and on.

The other type of mind focuses on the word “life.” They consider it a question about who they are. It’s a mortal question. These people are true musicians (whether trained yet or not). In their minds such a question stands alongside questions like living without a limb, or a primary sense, or the ability to breathe.

How do people become so closely bonded with music?

I believe a visceral connection with music is something beyond our control. If your spirit thrives on music, then you had it in you from the beginning. It is an innate quality found in certain people regardless of their family history, location, or socioeconomic status.

Roger H. Brown, the brilliant President of the Berklee College of Music spoke in Boston when I was there several years ago. He was talking to leaders from across the country involved with organizations like the Joy of Music School. He said to us, “talent is randomly distributed.” Roger was making the point that true musicians, the ones whose life identity is intertwined with music, come from across the entire spectrum of humanity. They are born into rich and middle-class and poor households alike. Once you’ve entered the world as a musical soul, your future success at fully realizing the musician inside you is entirely dependent on opportunity.

So, how does music help? In the eyes and ears of a child with a musical spirit, music is opportunity. Music, for that child, is the way up and out of the mainstream. At a certain age, a child with talent will look around and realize they can hear things their friends and family members cannot. They latch onto a beat in the rhythms of everyday life, while others glide along. They are moved by sounds that others don’t even realize are there. These young people have urgency in their relationship with music. They are primed for opportunity. That is where music helps.

As a concept, music builds children. In a practical sense music allows children to build themselves. At the Joy of Music School we know that. The School is all about providing opportunities for children to build themselves through music—especially those children who, for whatever reason outside their control, would otherwise do without. That’s how music helps. That’s how the Joy of Music helps.

By: Francis Graffeo, Executive Director


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