Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The War on Music

We have to realize that not everyone out there loves music. NTTAWWT! (Sorry, just wanted to use one of those cool texting acronyms: "not that there's anything wrong with that".) But every now and then I run into what I have come to realize is a "traditional witticism", that is to say, an easily available, because requiring no creativity, kind of joke. For example, many years ago I recall reading a Dagwood and Blondie cartoon where Dagwood is in his living room, picks up a ukulele and starts to strum on it. A complete stranger passing by, comes into the house, takes the ukulele and smashes it, then walks out. In the last panel, Dagwood is just standing there. I can't find that one, but here is another one on the same theme:

Click to enlarge
This traditional witticism about how awful and annoying it is when someone decides to learn a musical instrument continues right to the present day as this article demonstrates. Underneath a photo of someone carrying an electric guitar the text reads:

The Electric Guitar

In the hands of a master, the guitar is an amazing mixture of music, sex and fire-breathing dragons. In the hands of the kid down the street with an amp and a fuzz box, it’s an endless loop of the first three notes of a Limp Bizkit song. Who knew you could make Limp Bizkit sound worse? Are you learning to play the guitar? That’s awesome! Buy headphones.
 You see? In the hands of a professional, the guitar is wonderful, but in the hands of an ordinary person, the kid down the street, say, it is a horror. Sure, there is some truth to this, but don't you think that this particular thread in the fabric of our culture is what discourages young people and their children from learning a musical instrument? And is this a good thing? Isn't learning to play a musical instrument one of the best ways for children to learn the virtues of patience and discipline? Not to mention awaken their aesthetic sense?

UPDATE: And, coincidentally, I ran across this link to a study of the benefits of "active engagement in music." Here is an interesting quote:
Now Ms. Parbery-Clark and her colleagues can look at recordings of the brain’s electrical detection of sounds, and they can see the musically trained brains producing different — and stronger — responses. “Now I have more proof, tangible proof, music is really doing something,” she told me. “One of my lab mates can look at the computer and say, ‘Oh, you’re recording from a musician!’ ”
 There are other ways to tell. In my first year German language class, the first time we were in the language lab, trying to imitate the sounds of the German language on a tape, the instructor, who was clicking around listening in to the students work, stopped when she got to me and said: "oh, you're the music student!" Each year there were always one or two music majors in her class and she could easily tell who they were because they picked up the German accent quickly.

No comments: