Tuesday, 31 October 2006

13: Why is Music Important?

13: Why is Music Important?

Besa Luzha

University of Prishtina, Faculty of Arts, Music Department, Kosovo

I am a new music educator coming from Kosova, a small country in South Eastern Europe that is better known on the basis of the terrible conflict and war that happened here during the years 1998-1999.

Since June 1999, when the International Community through the NATO Alliance intervened and brought peace to my country, life has come back to normal and now we are trying to fulfill the necessary standards to join the European Family.

There is a lot of work to be done and many processes have already begun. Among them are a series of reforms in many segments of our life, and the most special one the Education Reform in all the levels.

I personally am responsible for the coordination of the group of experts compiling the new reformed music curriculum for all the grades (K-12), and parallel this work by teaching the students in the Faculty of Music about the exiting opportunities available in the music teaching profession.

While working in this process I have been asked many times "Why is music so important.?." And truly I have been trying to explain even to myself the reason why, and I have often thought why is it that we need to explain something very visible and evident.

In this article, I will not try to explain the scientific arguments starting from the theory of Multiple Intelligences and up to the benefits of music to the cognitive processes and results in overall tests in math and reading (as many researcher have already argued these benefits). I want to share with you a personal experience that has answered my question about the importance of music. I want to speak about another aspect of music that evoked to me the opinion of Plato and his "colleagues" from the ancient times about the opinion that "Music makes better people" or the opinion of Schopenhauer (the philosopher) that "music is the bath of the soul".

The power of music to touch our souls and evoke reactions and expression of different moods and emotions is for me the most important quality of music.

In the culture of my country, music plays a very important role. It is part of the most important moments of our lives-from birth, marriage and until death. (In our tradition when someone dies they cry-sing about the dead person by mentioning his good qualities and by describing in a form of poetry with rhymes and very unique tune and melody the pain that the members of his/her family feels).

In the most difficult times during the conflict, songs were created speaking of the freedom and the children where singing those songs all the time. It brought them hope for a better life in the future. For ten years in a row (1989-1999) the oppressive regime that administrated Kosova forbade the use of the only concert hall existing in Prishtina (the capital of Kosovo) for the population of Kosovar Albanians –majority of Kosovo population.

In the year 1999, after the peace was established my colleague musicians and I took an initiative to organize a concert of Classical Music that was the first for 10 years. It might seem so unusual to speak about the organizing of the concert in normal conditions. But the situation back then was everything but normal. I am speaking about a city coming our of war with lots of killed and massacred being found everyday in massive graves, lots of demolition and destruction and many homeless people.

Anyway, we tried and we did it. One night on a cold November where the temperature inside the hall with the broken and demolished windows was only 10 degrees Celcius, musicians from Kosova, Macedonia, Albania and their guest colleagues from Germany, USA and Italy performed to the audience of more than 600 people the beautiful orchestral pieces from Bach, Haydn, Barber, Copland and others as well as pieces from Albanian composers.

Although it was so cold, the musicians were dressed properly for the concert atmosphere and the sounds they produced created a warm environment. Thus music heated the hearts and spoke to all those people in one language-the language of love and mutual understanding. It brought courage and hope to the local people to move forward and showed the guests who had come to work in Kosovo the spirit of this people and their dreams to be treated as equal citizens as the other members of the European Countries.

Thus music established the bridges between the people in those moments and they were touched by its meaning. When the concert ended I saw something that I will never forget. All the 600 people raised and applauded and their faces were covered with tears of joy, pain and all the possible emotions that they had experienced in those moments. I will never forget this experience and I say-this is why music is so important. It enriches our lives and makes us feel human-with body and soul.

Today when we are asked to advocate for the importance of music in the schools we can say very simply and sincerely to all those who have doubts: Music is important because it helps us to educate the pupils (the people) to be sensitive and caring. So let us give this chance to music.

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