WHY DO WE LEARN MUSIC?
Our first response: Well, why not!? It is an art that encompasses all that we learn in each class each and every day
Music is a science. It is exact, specific, and it demands precise calculations and constant observation and adjustment of acoustical variances. A conductor's full score is a chart; a graph which indicates, over a specified time, how frequencies, intensities, volume changes, melody, harmony, vocal timbres, etc. occur at any given point - all within a most exact control of time. The students' score is just as precise, but individualized, demanding aural and physical changes when necessary (constant hypothesis test and retest).
Music is mathematical. It is rhythmically based on subdivisions of time into fractions which must be produced and coordinated instantaneously, not worked out on paper. Constant counting and adjusting to any metrical shifts, requiring new calculations, are immediately required.
Music is a foreign language. We sing in Latin, German, French, Japanese, Russian, Italian, Spanish, and many more beautiful languages. All are worked on with a great deal of respect and admiration. Most of the terms in the music score are Italian, German, or French. The actual notation is certainly not English; but a highly developed shorthand that uses symbols to represent ideas. It is often noted that the semantics of music is the most complete and universal language.
Music is history. Music usually reflects the environment and times of its creation, often even the country and/or racial feelings at that moment. It gives a glimpse at both societal and even individual philosophical tendencies. An individual's own societal opinions are often expressed through certain pieces of music. All music is written in context. Part of the joy in the journey is finding out what was happening in the world when this piece of art was created.
Music is physical education. It requires coordination and understanding of fingers, hands, arms, legs, lip, cheek and facial muscles, in addition to extraordinary control of the diaphragmatic, back, stomach and chest muscles, which respond instantly to the sound the ear hears and the mind interprets. One must take delicate control over the vocal mechanism, including and not limited to the lungs, the larynx, vocal folds, tongue, and jaw muscles. Familiarity and proper physical manipulation is constantly required.
Music is a study of religion. Often texts are representative of some sort of faith, or sometimes even a lack thereof. Exact quotes from the religious texts are sometime used so that, once analyzed in context, the music can breathe new meaning into them. Sometimes it is a general expression of faith either by a culture or denomination or even specific individuals - all worthwhile expressions of faith worthy of our exploration.
Music is English and poetry. The texts, the meanings, the beauty is present in each and every song. Each text inspired the composer - we work to find out why, and hopefully in turn, inspire ourselves.
Music is all of these things, but most of all, music is ART. It allows a human being to take all these dry, technically boring (but difficult) techniques and use them to create an emotional response. That is the one thing the sciences, or academia, cannot duplicate: humanism, feeling, emotion, passion, call it what you will...
...But, that is why we learn music
This will be our response to violence: To make music more intensely,
more beautifully, more devotedly, than
Leonard Bernstein, in response to the assassination of JFK