Why music matters

There is a nagging voice in my head that always questions everything I do. One of its favourite questions is: “Why are you doing music? Why should music be so important? Why should anyone listen? Why should music be taught in schools?!” The voice wouldn’t let me alone, so I finally wanted to give it a prompt answer.

Music is the art of organised sound that happens in real time, the product of human imagination. Music is an nonverbal language that speaks straight to our emotions. Music moves and energises us, and can make us feel the full range of human emotions. And it is our feelings and the ability to feel that give our lives a sense of purpose. If one couldn’t feel and nothing felt like anything, surely life wouldn’t be worth living? In some ways, music can be like ‘concentrated life’; it can express the deepest mysteries of being a human.

That is why it is so important that we have music in our lives and society, that we nurture and relish it and take the time to stop for a moment and listen. That is why it is crucial that we give every child the vocabulary for this marvellous language and expose all children to music. Music doesn’t belong only to professionals, but to everyone and every child should be given the opportunity and tools to explore and express themselves through music.

Music connects us to other people: the people who are sharing it with us in the moment, and also the people who came before us and will come after us. Music that is hundreds of years old can still speaks to us today, as the very essence of the human condition does not change over time.

Music can make us experience beauty and the presence of eternity. At its best, music can be a spiritual experience. We feel the presence of something bigger than us, whatever you like to call it, God, or truth.

“Next to the word of God, only music deserves being extolled as the mistress and governess of Human feelings. And when music is sharpened and polished by art, then one begins to see with amazement the great and perfect Wisdom of God in his wonderful work of harmony.” (Martin Luther)

At the end of the day, beauty and truth are the same thing. Truth is beautiful, and everything that is beautiful, expresses truth at some level. That is why we should always aim for perfecting our art at the highest possible level (absolute perfection, of course, is never completely possible. Only ‘God’ is perfect, but we are invited to seek to be “perfect like God is”), to aim for clarity and beauty. And not just in music, but in everything in our lives.

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty, -that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” (John Keats)

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