Learning how to play music, and making music, have benefits that are well recognized by science and society. We know how important music is to us all, but it’s nice to see this sense backed up by research. Science has shown that learning to play music improves brain functions, and creates additional neural pathways that may prevent or slow down the effects of conditions such as dementia, Alzheimers, — or even “senior moments!” For more details, take a look at our article called “Shoring Up Your Brain with Music” — just select “Feb 2016” from the archives at the bottom of the column at the left of this page.
Learning music from a teacher or at a music camp can yield tremendous benefits mentally, physically and socially. Learning online, as with www.fiddle-online.com, when you don’t have a teacher who can help you with the information or style of music or teaching you are looking for, can yield the same benefits as live lessons because it requires mindfulness and gives you an opportunity to work at your own pace. On fiddle-online.com, the live workshops, as well as subscription to tune or video groups with reasonable but limited timelines, give you a push to stay engaged and make progress. I have two mottos that are relevant here — One is “you don’t get good at this, you just get better!” The other: “The more you play, the better you get; but the more mindfully you play, the faster you get better.”
What’s strange, when we musicmakers look around us, is the disconnect in society about music and the arts, when it comes to support for arts education, careers, and organizations. Sometimes we have to fend off this disconnect and keep in mind how much it means to us all to learn and listen to music. Why do educators and policymakers so often take music and the arts for granted, when all evidence shows them to be indispensable?
Most people can hardly last five minutes without listening to music; music pervades advertising, television, radio, internet, performance, and ritual whether secular or religious. By contrast, people can go years without personal interaction with lawyers, corporate leaders, soldiers, even doctors. Artists design packaging and presentation for every product manufactured; writers are responsible for screenplays, monologues, content of newspapers or news shows, speeches, ad copy, and books, both fiction and nonfiction. In the U.S., leaving aside hobbyists and part-time workers, there are 2 million full-time jobs in the arts, more than there are doctors, lawyers, and about the same numbers as in the military — and they earn higher than the median income.
Yet the average presumption in schools and the media is that students majoring in English or the arts are impractical dreamers! The governor of Florida, for example, pulled money away from liberal arts to fund subjects that “create jobs.”
Here is a smattering of information that may help us connect the dots: Continue reading Music & Arts in the Real World