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September 25, 2011 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

Why everybody should play music

Banksy said “I always used to encourage everyone I met to make art; I used to think everyone should do it… I don’t really do that so much any more.”

In the context of ‘Mr. Brainwash,’ you can understand where he is coming from. Still, I think his original sentiment was right, and it applies just as much to music.

Everybody appreciates music. We all know that. I’ve never met anybody who doesn’t like some music to some degree. I’ve met people who don’t like chocolate or rice bubbles, and though I choose not to like them because of that, I don’t judge them to be the same soulless type that I might judge those, as yet unmet, who don’t like music. However, if the appreciation, the listening to and enjoying of music is the watching of porn, then the playing of music is the having of sex.

While it’s not necessarily the most elegant analogy to use, it does get the point across. And that point is this: not all of us are trying to be Ron Jeremy or Jenna Jameson, Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin; we might be, but it’s a small minority of people who participate in sex and sport who aspire to such heights of greatness.

At my high-school 85-ish per cent of people played rugby (a statistic of great pride for us all). Not everyone was doing it with the hope of being an All Black. Some may have, while for others it was a Saturday morning exertion of energy, for others an opportunity to try and start fights, and for the vast majority, a chance to dabble in a little Catholic school homoeroticism. But everyone did it—participation had very little to do with ability.

Alas! Not so with music. Attitudes towards the creatively engaging are treated with the weighty suspicion of Kiwi stoicism. From an early age people seem to latch on to phrases like “I can’t sing to save myself” and self-diagnose tone deafness with severe musical hypochondriasis.

Whatever weird kink in our maturation that blocks our desire to participate in something so universally appreciated is as irrational as procrastination. There’s nothing as rewarding and down right enjoyable as playing music.

Simply, it is my humble opinion that playing music is good for the soul, and everyone should give it a go. Just like calculus and coming to grips with Donnie Darko, it may take a bit of time and effort, but you will get there. Everybody has some sort of intrinsic musicality (see ‘Bobby Ferrin demonstrates the power of the pentatonic scale’) that isn’t restricted to Happy Birthday’s and Fringe Bar karaoke.

You might say that this could be applied to anything creative or artistic, and if you did you might just be on to something. I would happily concede to include anything creative, but I think music has the somewhat unique characteristic among the arts of being more inclined to sociability that gives its edge over the other arts for me. You might also say that having the opinion that everybody should do something artistic to broaden his or her minds is hardly an earth-shattering revelation. Again, spot on Bevan, but it seems that like eating habits, binge drinking and procrastination, we all know what we should do, we just don’t do it. So all I’m saying is, if you want to keep eating badly and drinking too much, while doing very little of productive worth, try your hand at music, and just maybe you can turn those bad habits into a lifestyle choice.


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