The Power of Music
By Ellie Rodgers
The study of music is more than a nice pastime; it is a valuable part of any education.
Music, one of the seven traditional liberal arts, is a vitally important facet of human life. It should be studied by all students, regardless of their interest in the subject: it can provide an incredibly useful outlet in today’s busy world, cultivate a mindset of patience and diligence, and connect students to one another and the world at large.
As someone that has played the piano for almost ten years, the present author can attest to the many benefits of using music as both a creative and emotional outlet, especially amidst a stressful, busy school year. Her piano teacher will attest that she plays best after a hard day, perhaps because doing so allows her to release tension and emotions that can be difficult to articulate in words.
Music also challenges us to think creatively, oftentimes on the spot, a skill that can sometimes be lost in the monotony of a school day. Someone that is much more comfortable with the calculated, planned nature of math and science may find this an especially enriching experience, one that they don’t receive in these typical courses of study. By promoting the study of music, especially the learning of one or multiple instruments, educators can begin to foster an environment that is creatively stimulating and that allows students to shed some of the unnecessary stress of school life.
Furthermore, studying music cultivates a patient, diligent, and disciplined mindset that translates to all areas of life. The study of music is one of the most prominent examples of the truth in the statement “practice makes perfect.” Though some are more musically inclined than others, the real difference is made through practice, which requires perseverance and hard work. As the present author has experienced countless times, this perseverance and hard work, which are crucial to being successful in the study of music, also help one to maintain a deeper focus in one’s academic studies. In this way, the study of music facilitates greater patience and discipline that can also be applied to academics and other activities.
Finally, learning about music, something that is so rich with human passions and history, connects us with our neighbors, including those across the world and those far from us in time. It is amazing that music, seemingly comprised of nothing more than patterns and words, can excite such strong emotions in us. Who can help but feel proud as the national anthem resonates through a stadium, or happy as a lighthearted pop song blasts through the speakers of a car with its windows rolled down, or nostalgic as the theme song from a favorite childhood show sounds from the TV? As simple as they are, these patterns create new, cultural ones that help us to feel closer to each other. In studying and celebrating music for its unique ability to connect people, we can hope to build a world that is not so divided and that values cultural diversity, harmony, and love more than isolation and hate.
Ellie Rodgers is a high school junior who enjoys mathematics, computer programming, and playing lacrosse. She is considering both Dartmouth College and Duke University, and plans to study physics and neuroscience.
If you enjoyed this piece, try one of our other posts here at the journal, like this profile of Henrik Ibsen, this student essay on patriotism, or this essay on using controversial texts in education.