Saturday, November 28, 2009

Music Alone Shall Live

Back when I was a Girl Scout, we used to sing ... a lot. Singing in rounds was very popular and one of the songs we used to sing went:

All things shall perish
From under the sky.
Music alone shall live.
Music alone shall live.
Music alone shall live.
Never to die.


I was going to quip something along the lines of if a tree falls in the woods, but no one hears it ..., but I don't think that hearing and responding to music is a uniquely human thing.

My friend, SnitchMom, was over the other day, and we were having a philosophical conversation about eating choices. The gist was, plants are living beings, too, just like animals and to insist that it's inhumane to eat animals, while one consumes plants without thought or reverence for the life taken to provide nourishment seems a little ... well, hypocritical. I was a vegetarian for a lot of years, and I chose not to eat meat, because I felt like if I couldn't kill it, I shouldn't eat it. I've never had a problem with ripping a carrot from the ground and hacking it up to make a meal.

But I respect the fact that the carrot does have a life force, and when I pluck it from the ground and shove it into my mouth, I consume that life force. To me, it's not a great deal different from taking the life force that was one of our rabbits to nurture my body. Both things must die so that I can live.

Of course, there's the argument that plants don't have a consciousness, but studies have shown that plants actually respond to sound. When exposed to different types of music, plants grow better, or not, depending on the music. Disjointed music, like a lot of rock music, had a less positive affect that softer melodies, like music of the spheres wind chimes.

Music is a big part of my family's life. We listen to music all of the time. Each of the girls has an iPod, which she has loaded with her favorite tunes. In addition, all three of my little girls (and my granddaughter :) are dancers, which is heavily dependent on music and rhythms. Little Fire Faery has been studying the violin for the past year or so. Mama-Daughter played the clarinet, just like her mama (me :). Prodigal Son was in the high school marching band and played the bass drum. Deus Ex Machina played the saxophone, and for his college sufficiency project he composed and recorded a song (to which his daughters choreographed and performed a dance as a gift for him last holiday season).

It's that time of year, again, and while I love the season - I love the weather, I love the slowing down of things, I love the tucking in and settling down next to the fire with a book or some simple project - I don't love feeling pressured to find that perfect gift for everyone. Don't get me wrong. I love gifting. That's my favorite part of the holiday. I just wish it wasn't something that was expected of me, and that rather than waiting with open hands, we, as a society, expected not to get any gifts at all, so that whatever we received would be a pleasant surprise.

I wish we were all like Eeyore, Thanks for thinking of me, instead of the Chipmunks, Me, I want a hula hoop. It would certainly take some of the pressure off of trying to find that perfect gift, if I knew that no matter what I was able to give, the recipient would enjoy receiving it.

This year, I think my gifts will be music. I'm not sure in what form, however. A music of the spheres wind chime might not be terribly appreciated by my daughters, although every time the wind blows (which is a lot where I live), they would be reminded of their gift.

They have instruments. Little Fire Faery has a violin. Precious has a ukelele. Big Little Sister has half-sized acoustic guitar. We also have a keyboard, a clarinet, a saxophone, several recorders, and a whole orchestra's worth of percussion instruments. I have a full-sized acoustic guitar I've been teaching myself to play for about eight years. I don't have a very good teacher, unfortunately, and so I haven't made much progress.

While we strongly believe in the unschooling philosophy, and we encourage our girls to be self-learners, for some subjects, having a teacher is just better. Music is one of those (foreign language is another). We've considered the gift of music lessons, and that will likely be something they get.

Of course that's a hard gift to wrap, and so, maybe, I'll have to reconsider the music of the spheres wind chimes so they'll have something under the tree. I'm not sure our music teacher would be happy stuffed in a box with a bow :).

2 comments:

  1. I would disagree that some subjects need a teacher. It is fine to choose a teacher but I learned way more music from hearing that my beloved uncle "hummed and strummed" and then doing that myself than from years of lessons. And my husband can teach anyone *how* to learn a language . . . not the language itself (though he could do that) but how to approach it in a way that allows fluency in a relatively short time. He learned the how of it from someone who was fluent but he's applied it to many languages. Many people think "math" (or what passes for math) must be taught . . . and maybe what passes for math must be, but real number literacy and the ability to think mathematically actually isn't ever taught. Just like real fluency in reading . . . it is experienced, not ever taught. Just my unschooling perspective.

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  2. I think a gift of music lessons is an outstanding idea. Our piano teacher is phenomenal -- a gifted teacher who imparts so much to the kids. Often she'll have the kids place their hands on her triceps or hand while she demonstrates various ways to play, explaining that muscular tension can develop over years of playing different ways, demonstrating differences in tones gained by the subtle differences in motion. Yeah, maybe our kids could figure that stuff out on their own, but it would likely take a lifetime and a huge dollop of luck.

    In the meantime, I watch, listen, and observe a master teacher in action, and learn much about teaching and interacting with children of various ages and temperaments.

    A good teacher can reveal new pathways and perspectives to the learner.

    And now I'm walking around singing Music Alone Shall Live over and over and over ....

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