We walked into music lessons last week, and almost as soon as we were in the door, Andy Happel, my girls' music teacher, handed me an article to read while I waited. I was so moved by what I read that I actually cried a little.
The article was written by Karl Paulnack as his Welcome Address to the Boston Conservatory, and what he says, in a nutshell, is that music is the spark of life, and while we, as a society, tend to undervalue it and its purveyors, music is what can (and will and does) heal the world.
That's what made me cry, because he is so right, and I came home and found Quartet for the End of Time written by French composer Olivier Messiaen while he was a POW in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II, and I played it. At one point, the music was so intensely moving that my dog started to howl, a long mournful sound, and I cried, again.
It's no secret that music and dance are and have always been a very big part of our daughters' educational experiences. I, personally, value both very highly - perhaps more because I don't do either of them very well. Formal education, in my opinion, should teach skills, rather than knowledge. We gain knowledge by living and experiencing the world. We gain skill by having someone teach us, and then through practice and repetition. Music and dance are, for me, skills rather than just knowledge, but there is the additional fact that research has shown a direct correlation to music education and higher scores on achievement tests, which seems to indicate that those who also engage in the arts excel in other areas.
Does music education make one smarter? Maybe. There is, afterall, the stereotypical band geek.
But, maybe, it's not that making music makes us smarter, but rather, as Paulnack observes, that music shows us how things fit together in the world, that music makes us more observant of what's out there, more aware, more ... intuitive to the inner workings of ourselves and the unseen.
Whatever the reason, music is, and will remain, an integral part of my girls' education, even if only to draw us closer together as a family, playing tunes in our living room for the simple pleasure of it.
Please click on the link Welcome Address and read what Paulnack has to say. Its simple truth will move you, too.