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Music education can help people cope with rising crime | COMMENTARY

Anyone turning on the news today can’t escape the shock and reality of rising crime throughout our country.

In America, our underlying sense of security has been seriously shaken and undermined. We struggle daily to restore balance, order and harmony to our lives while searching for answers to why and how increasingly prevalent crime can exist in a world where humanity has so much in common.

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It has been a great consolation for many people to participate and partake in musical activities such as lessons, classes and concerts, not only for enjoyment but also for healing purposes. There have been many musical events and benefit concerts that have taken place, both virtually and in person, since the coronavirus pandemic took over our lives more than a year ago.

Virtual music events can provide an escape from reality or a way of coping with a crime in a positive, emotional “bloodletting.” English poet Joseph Addison, in “A Song for St. Cecilia’s Day,” described music eloquently in rhyme: “Musick, the greatest good that mortals know, And all of heav’n we have below.”

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Perhaps music, some psychoanalysts say, conjures up “longings for the lost paradise of oral infancy;” it takes us back to the “primary period when the maternal voice conveyed loving reassurance.” Others have ascribed feelings of being in a tranquil state of bliss when listening to or making music, being at one with humanity, the world and oneself.

English author Anthony Storr, in his book, “Music and the Mind,” alluded to German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer’s description, which stated that, “It is certainly true that a great performance of great music can temporarily uplift us, remove us from all our anxieties and enable us to escape ‘entirely from all our affliction.

“Philosophers have thought that music enabled a listener to escape the pains of existence by temporarily entering a realm of peace. This is refreshing because it permits the same kind of scanning, sorting and rearrangement of mental contents which takes place in reverie or in sleep ... When we take part in music, or listen to an absorbing performance, we are temporarily protected from the input of other external stimuli. We enter a special secluded world in which order prevails and from which the incongruous is excluded. This is a beneficial state rather than an escape from reality.”

In his book, “A Common Sense View of All Music,” British ethnomusicologist John Blacking wrote under the heading, “The Power of Music”: “The development of the senses and the education of the emotions through the arts are not merely desirable options. They are essential both for balanced action and the effective use of the intellect.”

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Enrolling in music education programs virtually or in person is a way to restore harmony and peace in an ever-changing world.

Dr. Joan Spicknall is a Columbia resident and director of the Suzuki Music School of Maryland Inc. She can be reached at 410-964-1983 or director@suzukimusicschool.com.

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