Music and music history has been a major part of my life. I have been a closet musician myself, having been playing guitar since I was 10. I am not the greatest guitarist however, since I am only able to play one song by memory and can’t play lead scales. I am also an amateur musicologist. I enjoy reading books on music history, particularly 20th century American music, and it remains my most favorite topic of discussion. Whether performing in a band or just listening to it, music can be a very beneficial activity to take part in because it is very healthy, it can teach one how to be a team player and can also teach about different cultures.
One way that music can be a beneficial activity is because it’s a very therapeutic and healthy activity. I was about 10 years old when I first got turned onto the power of music. I was a loner as a child because my classmates harassed me, which caused me to go through bouts of depression. Sometimes back then I had thoughts of suicide but it was the healing power of music that saved my life. If it weren’t for the lyrics of some songs I heard growing up, I don’t think I would be alive today. For example, “Tears In Heaven” by Eric Clapton. This is a very sad song he written about his son which fell out of an apartment window in 1991. This song helped me feel better about my life because Eric lost a son, but I had not lost any family members at that point yet. I felt my life wasn’t as bad as it is for some others after hearing that song. Another example of what saved my life is any song by The Beatles. At 15 I was questioning constantly, “Why am I here,” and “What should I do with my life?” I saw the Beatles Anthology in 1995 on TV and thought it was very interesting and very informative. That is where my interest in music history started and I felt I needed to become a music historian, however it was never in my cards to go that route. I still like reading about music history and discussing it for fun, though. Music can ease pain, relieve stress and also improve overall well-being. According to Linda Wasmer Andrews, who is a health and mental health writer who has a degree in psychology, “There was a study done at Tzu Chi University in Taiwan. New nurses with high stress levels were randomly assigned to either listen to slow soothing music or just rest quietly. The ones listening to the slow soothing music reported feeling less stressed than the ones who chose to rest quietly.” She adds that they had lower blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormone levels. She even states in her article that music may even boost up one’s immune system. She said that a study on mice showed that the mice music was played for had an increase in cells compared to those that didn’t have music played for them. She also argues that listening to music can help encourage exercise, stating that it can motivate you to work out longer and harder. Music can also benefit spiritually and to do better at math, particularly fractions. In the words of local guitar broker and lead guitarist of the Harrison First Baptist Church Praise Team, Tut Campbell, “For the musician himself, the emotion of the song can allow him or her to develop feelings of happiness or sadness and can be an outlet for one’s spirit and soul as well.” He also adds that a 4/4 time signature song can have the basic quarter notes, half notes and whole notes as well as eighth notes and sixteenth notes that make up a measure of music in 4/4 time. Therefore, music has many health benefits. If one listens or plays music, they can be more relaxed and less stressed and will feel very healthy. It can also be great for you spiritually and mathematically.
Another way music can be a very beneficial activity is as a musician, one can learn how to be a team player. As a band member, one has to work with their band mates to make sure everyone is on the same page, and make sure the song sounds well. They can be in the studio all day with their band mates to make sure the recordings are perfect, so each band member should put their egos aside and be team players and work together. This is sometimes very difficult however, because everyone has their own creative ideas. If everyone in a band can get along well, they can work together better and there music would probably sound even better and would help them in the future if they ever needed to find a job where they had to be a team player. Team players usually get more respect compared to those that aren’t. If we are not team players, how are we able to get along with everyone who wants things done a certain way? For a peaceful environment, one needs to be able to agree to disagree. We don’t have to agree with what is to be done, but in order to get along with everyone, we should do it anyway. This will keep everything flowing more smoothly.
Learning about different cultures is another way music is a very beneficial activity. Listening to blues music from the Mississippi Delta can teach about what it was like living in the rural south in the early 1900s. Robert Johnson lived in Clarksdale, Mississippi, which is known as ground zero of blues history. When he started playing guitar at the juke-joints he wasn’t any good, and it is rumored that he met the devil at the crossroads of highway 61 and highway 49 there one night. He supposedly sold his soul to play well, which is the topic of his song “Cross Road Blues.” Cream, with Eric Clapton singing lead, later covered this song as “Crossroads” in 1968. Robert Johnson died in 1938 at the age of 27. Since he was a womanizer, a girl’s jealous boyfriend poisoned him. Jimmy Reed is another great example of how blues music can teach how it was in early 1900s rural south. Jimmy Reed was so drunk, that his mother had to be at the recording sessions, and sing the songs in his ear for him to know the next line, even though he wrote the songs. Some of his greatest works are “Big Boss Man,” “Bright Lights, Big City,” and “Baby, What You Want Me To Do.” Songs from the 1960s can teach about the counterculture of the hippies and the antiwar movement. Buffalo Springfield put out a great song that remains to this day as one of the leading anti-war songs. It was called “For What It’s Worth (Stop Hey, What’s That Sound),” which was about people protesting in the streets and being against the Vietnam War. Bob Dylan also put out a song called “The Times, They Are A Changin’,” that was a great song expressing how he felt about how quickly history was changing in 1963. Another great example of his songs is “Like A Rolling Stone,” where he expressed about how a lot of people of the baby-boom generation were on their own with their views, and ending up living on their own because of it, and didn’t get much support from their parents also. Even though some people do not agree with rap music, it can teach what it’s like living in the ghettos of America. “Straight Outta Compton” by NWA, Dr. Dre’s “Nothin’ But A G Thang,” or Ice Cube’s “Today Was A Good Day” are great examples of this. These songs express the artists’ feelings about police brutality, how hard life can be in the ghetto, and what the party scene is like there.
Music is definitely a very beneficial and rewarding activity to be involved in. I do not know how people would survive without it. I personally feel that it can save lives and can teach things. It can make one a much healthier person, teach how to be a team player, teach about the different cultures, and also help people feel more relaxed and less stressed. Because of its many benefits, I would invite everyone to have an open mind to it and just try and give every genre of music a chance, and I would also invite everyone to give every musical instrument a chance as well.
This is an original article I wrote for my English Comp I class but here are the works I cited:
Andrews, Linda Wasmer. “5 Health Benefits of Music.” Yahoo! Health. Yahoo, 27 Apr. 2012. Web. 15 Feb. 2013. <http://health.yahoo.net/experts/allinyourmind/5-health-benefits-music>.
Campbell, Tut. E-Mail interview. 17 Feb. 2013