The Community Musician
One of the many hats I wear is that of an active community musician. Some may ask what a community musician is.
Music is present in every culture on Earth and when we find out that there is life beyond our little dust ball here, we will discover that music (in some form) exists there as well.
Music is more than just an artistic expression; more than just an exercise in the mechanics of its creation. it reaches us on a much deeper level....and it doesn’t matter the style or genre. People have strong feelings and emotions about the music they hear.
This is why some folks find works like Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 to be an aesthetically and emotionally satisfying if not draining experience, while others might find the same sensation listening to music by Marilyn Manson.
Music touches all of us on a very deep and personal level, and while our tastes may be radically different, the need for this connection with music is not.
On a basic level, community music is any activity that involves members of a given location coming together to create a musical experience for themselves and their audience. It is manifested on its largest scale by community bands and orchestras. This is primarily where my endeavors have taken me over the past 10 years or so.
There is a great deal of joy that comes from being able to guide a group of 50-60 musicians in a performance. The teamwork involved and the collaborative effort of this many individuals to create something artistic is, I think, the greatest expression of how important music is to each and every human.
My personal belief is that we could not survive without music in our lives. Similarly to the way we can not survive without dreaming or sleep, I believe that the absence of music would be detrimental if not catastrophic to our health and psychology. Studies that have been done on dream deprivation have all shown that deep psychoses can result if subjects are not allowed to enter REM sleep. Even worse is the effect of sleep deprivation.
I don’t know how a study could be done with regard to music deprivation and I am not sure that it could be done since music is such an intrinsic part of our makeup - how exactly could you keep subjects from humming or “beat boxing” let alone hearing music in their heads?
I also believe there would be severe if not insurmountable moral and ethical obstacles with such a study.
Nevertheless, I do believe that if music were to somehow be  eliminated from our lives and culture, we would all, individually and as a society, be damaged, weakened, and culturally and emotionally fractured.
To paraphrase Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil:
Make your own kind of music,
Sing your own special song.
Make your own kind of music,
And help everybody else sing along.
Thursday, April 8, 2010