Making Music

file-8-09-16-7-34-10-pmI attended another high school music programme this evening and was struck once again at how important making music is to human culture.

Not listening to music, though that is nice, too.

Making music.

I have always loved music—classical, rock, country, folk, hip-hop, jazz—doesn’t matter what it is. If I could live my life inside a musical, I would. In fact, some days you could be forgiven for thinking I do, the number of times my husband or I break out in song.

Young people seem to understand this need to make music—kids sing on the playground when they’re younger, and gather with friends and a few guitars when they’re teens.

They make up songs about their high school teachers. The one we heard tonight was loving; some of the ones I remember singing with my friends in high school were not so kind.

They beat drums, tap silverware on the table, clap their hands and do beat boxing. They write music, they play music, they make it their own. They use it to say the things they cannot speak. They use it to be the people they want to be.

And somewhere along the line, they stop making music.

Somewhere along the line, music becomes something that ‘professionals’ do.

They start to believe that making music is embarrassing, a waste of time.

They start to believe that music must be performed for an audience.

Gatherings no longer include the guitars. Beat boxing gets rolled eyes instead of an on-the-fly rap to go with it. Show tunes no longer feature in everyday conversation.

Oh, there are adults who still do this, for sure. But usually they have a reason for doing it—they’re in a band, or music is part of their work. The average adult with 2.5 kids, a mortgage, and a job doesn’t.

It is a loss.

A loss, not just to the individual, but to society as a whole. We lose our ability to express the things we cannot say. We forget to be the people we want to be. Celebrities become demi-gods, because we forget that we can all make music—we don’t need a recording contract, a gig, an audience, or even an ounce of musical ability. We can make music because we are human. We need to make music to remain so.

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