Do you remember taking Music Appreciation in school? Many of us started learning about music as early as our pre-school years, when we learned about simple instruments – a drum, a triangle and maracas. I can remember in grammar school, my music teacher would have us listen to Peter and the Wolf, encouraging us to listen for the different instruments, and then she would explain what character each instrument represented. So from an early age, I learned how to LISTEN to music – differentiating the sounds of the instruments. Even more importantly, I learned how the instruments worked together to tell a story. Music can teach us how to use our imagination.
Over the years, I think many of us get caught up in a dance beat, or a head nod beat, or even caught up in the lyrics of a song. We often forget to truly appreciate the music behind the song. This is probably why I am so critical of today’s music scene – a lot of empty beats and lyrics that don’t have much in the way of musicianship and instrumentation. But even with music that we like, how many of us really listen to the music we hear? Are we listening through the music – finding the instruments, deconstruction the arrangement, interpreting lyrics, and then putting those pieces back together and listening to all these elements at once?
Over the last several years, I find myself going back to the basics of music appreciation – and appreciating those simple lessons learned so long ago. I believe that the music we enjoy is part of our personal soundtracks. I enjoy multiple genres of music, but I would admit that for many years, I found myself partial to heavy percussion and bass strings. Now, the song had to be good, but I would really be drawn to the drums and listen intently for some bottom (as in bass sounds). But in the last few years, I find myself wanting/needing to hear more ambient and downtempo music. I’m not sure if this is related to older age, or just a need/desire to be more mellow! My music appreciation basics are now taking my ears to strings – the sound of an acoustic guitar, of orchestral string arrangements, is so soothing. I am especially fond of deep, haunting string arrangements which send me into a peaceful bliss! And to me, listening to the sound of an acoustic guitar is like hearing the purest form of music.
If you haven’t done so in a while, take a little time to engage in some music appreciation.