If you are like me with a large number of musician and music educator friends (or even just friends with people who love music) you might see the occasional article being posted on places like Facebook, Twitter, etc. praising the powers of music in one way or another. You yourself might have posted one or several of these articles. When people of the music community try to advocate for music we often go for many of the following lines:
- Music improves test scores
- Music relieves stress
- Music makes you better at math
- Music makes it easier to learn a second language
- Heart rates improve if you sing in a choir
- Music improves your immune system
- Music makes your kids smarter
- Music prevents dementia
- Music releves pain
- Music aids in memory
The list goes on and on. On top of the almost magical properties that many of these articles promise, it also doesn't take long to find people claiming music save their lives in one way or another. A common trope one might hear or read in a celebrity musician's bio is the transformative effect music (and/or other musicians and composers) had on them.
NOW, I'm not one to discount to discredit any of these claims or research nor diminishing the effect music had/has on peoples lives. But I would like to discuss our relationship with the medium. Often, these articles and bios make music out to be an almost "cure-all" treatment to all of life's problems. And it is not just the way we talk about the miracle properties of music that seems almost romanticizing.
In the way we speak of music, I find that many treat it almost like a divine presence. Music can do no wrong and must be treated with the upmost seriousness and respect. From musicians and composer outright saying things to the effect of "music is godly" or "music is a way to speak closer to the divine", or attributing god like characteristic to composers (which is something painters have been doing since the day of Beethoven if you examine the iconography of composers portraits compared to their actual death mask--there is a lot of god imagery in many of Beethoven's portraits).
There are also subtle ways we place music on a pedestal. From the act of dressing up to see a classical music concert, placing a much higher standard of quality to music than many other things like food or what clothes we wear. Even the way many of us look up reverently towards the composer we admire as if they themselves were divine beings that we could never measure up to.
But is any of this really bad or good? Does deifying music harm our relationship with music or does it do music good to be treated this way? Do you find yourself looking at music through this romanticized lens? Discuss our relationship with music and if romanticizing and deifying music is inherently good or bad for us.