Turn That Racket Down!

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“Art is in the eyes of the beholder”, my seventh grade teacher proclaimed as we gazed upon a piece of blue cardboard paper with a line of green magic marker though it. She was probably just defending the creator of that project who was receiving giggles and glances from his class mates. It turns out he forgot we had an art project due that day and threw one together a second before class. I’m sure my teacher Ms. Melton regretted the day she used that phrase. From that day on students would attempt to defend their ten second sloppy work by quoting her. With our hands on our hips and in the matter of fact tone teachers hate, we would argue, “Just as you said ‘Art is in the eyes of the beholder’ and this is art to me, so you can’t just mark me off for my art being different.” I’m sure Ms. Melton wanted to yell “It’s not different! It’s your gum squished on a piece of expensive water coloring paper. Which if you haven’t noticed is used for WATER COLORING, not as a gum wrapper”.
Just as she had gazed upon our lazy scribbles wondering, “Could this really be art?” I have since then pondered the same question. At some point or time I’m sure some of you have also looked at something truly hideous and thought, “That can’t be art, can it?” Sometimes things just can’t be art. If I spat on a piece of paper, is it art if I claim that it is? I’d like to think not. I believe art takes talent and skill that should be admirable. When I gaze upon the “Lilly Ponds” by Monet, I am captivated by the texture and strokes perfectly placed to create this magnificent masterpiece. Music, as well as art, manifests humanity’s interpretation of beauty into some tangible or sensible form. Just as Monet’s elegant strokes speak to my soul, so do the strokes of a pianist as their fingers glide over a grand piano. But the noise my brother makes when he sits on the piano and rubs his butt back and forth so as to scratch it cannot be music. Can just any noise claim to be music or art really be music or art?
A few years ago as a youthful high school student full of curiosity, I dove into the world of music. My parents rarely turned on the radio in the car and school was already time-consuming, so my variety of music was limited. However, upon gaining friends more experienced in the music field, I gleefully joined in. I learned about all the latest and most popular musicians, a majority of them being part of the hip hop genre. This music was foreign to me because I was only well versed in Andrea Bocelli, Mozart, and some Christian music bought by my mother in support of local upcoming musicians from church. Therefore, while I was initially repulsed by rap, techno, and any of the other hip hop songs (or what my dad calls ‘jive’ music), I soon grew used to it. I actually began to enjoy Rihanna with her suicidal and dark themes and Eminem with his consistently angry songs, which sounded like animals communicating through growls. Every once in a while I would throw in a bubbly Katy Perry song about a plastic bag drifting through the wind, fireworks, and teenage dreams. I became a music junky. I was no longer the girl who hummed in the back of a car pretending to know the lyrics. I transformed into the girl who could sing every word, pause, and note perfectly. I grew so confident that I even caught the mistakes of others and giggled to myself at their ignorance.
However, when I look back to those days and all the songs I learned, I wonder, was that really art? Did that music change me, move me? It was catchy, and I will admit that there was talent at times. Yet the music never fulfilled me or opened my eyes as a symphony from Beethoven or a simple majestic piece played on the piano could. I would have never realized the beauty of the music I experienced in my toddler years if it had not been for the Liberal Arts high school I attended. It forced its students to engulf mountains of knowledge about composers like Beethoven, Mozart, and the Operas of Memoirs of a Geisha and The Marriage of Figaro. I memorized countless songs. Even though the words of “Figaro Figaro Figaro” pounded in my brain, I discovered the extravagance, the magnificence, and the simple beauties found in music.
I believe that every child should recognize the sounds that plucking, strumming, and gliding over an instrument create. We should not become content by the press of a button that creates a rhythm that sounds like someone running into a wall repeatedly along with five basic notes played over and over again. A child should experience sounds with depth, emotion, and deep rooted skill. Therefore, every school should mandate that its students receive a decent education showing the growth of music throughout the ages. I would also advise that children learn to play an instrument. The instruments do not have to be big fancy trombones, because no school wants children walking around honking those beasts of an instrument. It would probably be a little distracting to the children working. However, an instrument like the recorder would do. They’re cheap and easily learned; the only side effect is that they are about as annoying as a squawking duck. In eighth grade I was required to play the recorder. You can imagine what it’s like when a bunch of eighth graders are huffing and puffing into their recorders inflicting migraines wherever they go.
Controlled by our childlike curiosity, the recorders eventually were used for many other things rather than music, like a baseball bat, a weapon, and the best of all: a light saber. However, while the recorders were occasionally misused, we were taught simple songs in preparation for the ‘recorder concerts’. It still amazes me that our poor parents would sit there for hours listening to children’s recorders squeal and screech. Then they would clap and smile as if that horrendous attempt to play a song was in any way music to their ears. Yet we learned how to handle and understand the use of an instrument, even though that was only a very low level of the potential of instruments in music.
Yet, as I mature, my taste of music returns to that before high school. Every day, I drive home singing along with Andrea Bocelli, and even though it’s in Italian, I know every word. The radio station is set to 87.5 FM, the classical station. I have grown sick of the repetitive tunes and lyrics that have grown so popular in this modern world. It may satisfy one’s need for music like half a cookie will satisfy a toddler, but soon they will cry for the other half mommy hid in her pocket for later. Music is intricate, extravagant, yet simple; it reflects the human race, different in so many ways, but also similar in others. It comes in many forms, some with surprises other with let downs. Some change you for life, others maybe a day. I desire that every child be able to experience music in its greater potential than what the radio stations like KISS fm and 101.5 JAMS offer. And the first step to ensure that would be through the educational system.





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