I could quote the numerous brain development studies, the math studies, and language studies – but I won’t. They’re easy to find in a quick internet search, and everyone talks about them, as if they are the biggest and best reason to study music. They’re not, and I’ve got a list on why.
Reason one: Music is the expression of the human condition.
It tells stories of love and loss, triumph and defeat, and much more. It can emulate the sounds of nature, and bring out the best in people. Don’t believe me? Just listen to Beethoven’s Eroica, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or Dvorak’s American Quartet. Here’s a spotify playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1tN15jzYTjdVoGSAYNexa2 Really listen, don’t just turn it on in the background – I promise they’re worth the time.
Reason two: Music is social.
It’s this core characteristic that brings people together to make more of it. A lonely violin can sound mournful or joyful, but there’s nothing more soul-satisfying than finding a group of like-minded musicians with whom to make music. It teaches you to supplant your own ego in favor of working together to achieve a common goal. It also teaches the value of the individual, because while working together is vital, individual practice and fortitude are equally important.
Do you remember that kid in school who would never pull his weight during group projects? People like that either shape up or ship out in musical groups. The other musicians won’t stand for it, and that guy (or girl) won’t be able to keep up anyway when they don’t practice.
Reason three: Music forces growth.
To continue to play music, growth is a must. I suppose you could play “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” for the rest of your life, but seriously? People who don’t push beyond where they are in music often quit because they “get bored.”
I’ll tell you something: I’ve had students go on to college music programs, and had students who quit before they really got going.
Those who kept going had some things in common: They refused to stagnate. They refused to allow a wall they’d hit stop them, and they constantly pushed for more.
Those who quit had opposite characteristics in common: too quick to give up and too willing to settle.
Reason four: Studying music for any length of time will lead you to the history of humanity.
The good, the bad, and the ugly are all there, and important to understand. You can’t ditch one part of history because it’s uncomfortable, any more than you can avoid chores for very long.
I’ve always studied history through music, I find that when you follow music and its development, you also find the history of humanity. From our earliest ancestors who used bone flutes, primitive drums or sticks to whack a hollow tree trunk, to modern music with its wide array of styles, music is the story of us.
Why music? Because it is intrinsically human.