Spread the Music Importance

December 11, 2011
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How do you feel about music? You and I listen to it almost every day, and enjoy its many benefits. Nearly 50% of all American teenagers listen to music for an extended period of time every day (Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Usage in America 1). We think of music as just another semi-important aspect of our lives, and it becomes a subliminal feature to daily life. However, people all over the world lack the will, power, freedom, or resources to make, or listen and enjoy music for a number of reasons. Perhaps they are being denied music as a result of lacking financial support, government censorship, or just limited music trade, or access period. Either way, citizens of third world countries are being denied music, and the many benefits of music, including social, political, economic, educational, and personal reform and improvement, which they need.

A primary reason why music is important is because it can cause social acceptance, and understanding. As seen through history, as two different cultures begin to mingle and blend, often time conflict erupts, mainly due to by conflicting views, and the inability to accept others’ beliefs. This problem is prevalent throughout the world today as well. In the Middle East, as well as Africa, many tribes in the region are at war with each other for these exact reasons. Children are being serviced as soldiers, and thousands of Africans are being slaughtered over misunderstandings and stubbornness (Brooke 2). Music can act as a bridge to connect to different cultures, tribes, nations, worlds. It helps to communicate ideas and feelings, and mend the very conflicts that now grip much of Africa and the Middle East. Charles Fowler, a leading musician teacher and speaker, has this to say about the importance of music to understanding and effectively blending cultures:
The other area that is unique to the arts is what they teach is about ourselves and other people. The arts can establish a basic relationship between the individual and the cultural heritage of the human family. As advancing systems for travel and communication brings the peoples of this world closer, understanding human differences becomes increasingly important. The foundation for peace between peoples depends on the intercultural connection and exchange. The greatest gift one people can give to another is to share their culture. One of the most revealing ways that we do this is through the arts. (Fowler 75)

Without music, the conflicts between cultures may never be fully mended, and tensions still run high. So, by arming peoples of third world countries with music, we are handing them a “weapon” to solve their culturally differences and settle disputes through joyful music, which is why it is so important to have music in one’s life. Also, music is important to preserving culture’s uniqueness from being lost in the battle with time. This is becoming all to common in 3rd world countries without music, because as generations pass down traditions, such as music, they can no longer remember, or express them due to the lack of music opportunities in their lives. The Edge, lead guitarist of the band U2, started a foundation to help preserve the unique musical culture of New Orleans after the devastating Hurricane Katrina struck. His company, Music Rising, raises money to give musical instruments to musicians in New Orleans who have lost everything they had in the storms (Music Rising 1).

On top of that, music has the ability to help settle countries’ domestic disputes as well, mainly when dealing with the government, and the administration of the nation. However, unknown to much of the population in the United States, serious musical censorship is existent, and rampant in much of the Middle East, as well as all over the world, where governments are censoring certain bands or artists, and their music lyrics, and genres. As explained in an interview in Smashed Hits 2.0, “Some live in countries where musical expression can be interpreted as an act of protest” (Glanville 3). These musicians are facing possible destruction of their careers, property, and even the possibility of facing time in prison, or even death. In Cameroon, the government is using extreme measures to silence any form of protest, especially in music. For instance, “Cameroonian singer Lapiro de Mbanga faces harsh jail conditions for speaking out against his government’s new constitution plans” (Glanville 123). These artists, and hundreds more all over the world, who have committed no crime, who only wanted to fight for a cause they thought was just, are now being persecuted for their music, and the power they possess. But these artists, like many others in the past, such as the Beatles during the Vietnam War, must be helped in order to spread change (Vietnam War 2). Music must be nourished in countries like these to help others change the world, and better their governments, societies, and nations. Music can act as the catalyst for change in nearly any and all situations (Carter 46). Music is a vital part of any political change in the world, which people in third world countries need, so that they can cause justful, and positive political reform that their countries need. So by being denied music, these people are being denied the chance at living truly free, and happy under their governments.

Economic stimulation can be caused by the growth of music in a nation as well, making it a vital part to any country’s economy. Actually, one of the factors that keeps many third world countries from having music in the first place could be solved by having music. In America, the music industry plays a vital role in domestic economics, as well as international trade (Galindo 5). Stimulating and expanding a third world country’s music industry could be a huge financial boost to it, and will play an important role in the development of the country, much like the United States, who made over $60 billion in music industry revenue in this year alone (Worldwide Music Industry Revenues 1). Also, with a running music industry, a country can save its rich musical culture from annihilation, and could spread it through the world, and influence other cultures and international music artists. This in turn could help with social and political reform through music, another reason why it is vital to have music in all parts of the world.

With the number of different organizations, ranging from UNICEF, to Compassion International, who are trying to establish schools, and educational institutes for children in underdeveloped countries, it would be a shame to not have music as a part of their schools. In Charles Fowlers book, “Strong Arts, Strong Schools: The Promising Potential and Shortsighted Disregard of the Arts in American Schooling,” he explains that music is important to involve in a schooling system because of its various psychological, physical, and educational benefits (Fowler 99). He also explains that “Schools are one of the mainstays of the culture. By passing on to the younger generations the knowledge and understanding we have accumulated, we preserve our level of civilization. This is the process of enculturation. Arts education is part of this process of enculturation, passing along existing culture to the next generation” (Fowler 25). In this passage, Fowler explains two things, one that first of all, music is important to culture, as stated above, and that it is an vital part of education as well. So, it is essential to education that if the richest, fullest education is desired, that music must be a part of this education. This arts education is hard to supply in 3rd world countries though, where very simple, primitive schooling systems are being set-up, with not a whole lot of funding.

The final reason why, and possibly the most important and sometimes ignored reason why music is so important to people, is because it gives them a powerful outlet for their feelings, emotions, ideas, thoughts, and frustrations. From the words of Daniel Barenboim, a conductor who has been censored in the Middle East:
Music is so powerful because it is a physical expression of the human soul. It attacks, I would say, all the functions of the human being- the brain, the heart, the stomach, the temperant. That’s what makes it so dangerous. It is much more powerful than words. (Smashed Hits 2.0 3)
Barenboim recognizes the power of music, which is so important to the expression of people. People have ideas, feelings, emotions, and thoughts that must be expressed sooner later, and the best way to do that is through music, and lyrics. Famous rapper, Jay-Z, used his music to express conditions of his life in the ghettos of New York, and the hardships that he faced throughout his life. This became such an important outlet to him, that he ended up making a career out of it, hoping to spread his message and plea for help to the world (Decoded 55). Not expression yourself can have treacherous effects on your health. Obviously, there is the chance of depression and suicide, but it has also been found that people who do not express themselves have a fourfold chance of dying than other, healthier people (H.S.N. 2) So, music is important to people in third world countries because it presents them with a way to express, and spread their thoughts, emotions, feelings, ideas, and beliefs with the world. By denying them music, their potential chances of depression, self-inflicted pain, and suicide.

Although many people may not realize it, music has such a profound effect on our lives, and many people in underdeveloped countries do not get to benefit from these effects in the absence of music in their lives. By denying music to people in third world countries, we are denying them the means to cause social, political, economic, educational, and personal reform and improvement that are important to humanity and societies everywhere. Music can act as the weapon of protest, the voice of cultures, the catalyst of personal expression, the key to educational success, and the passport to economic growth and improvement. We enjoy these benefits every day. How would your life be different without music in it?





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