Music as Self-Expression

headphones and microphoneOne of the things that fascinates me the most about music is its ability to serve as a conduit for self-expression. To some, this realization is as obvious as apple pie. Yet, we often forget that we each have our own tune just waiting to be unleashed.

In today’s world, music is often relegated to the background. When Joshua Bell conducted his famous experiment playing in the subway of Washington D.C. (in 2007) and posed as a panhandler, he was mostly ignored. No one had the time to listen to the amazing sounds coming from his instrument. Out of 1,097 passers-by, only 7 stopped to listen during the busy morning rush hour.

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Have we as a society become so self-obsessed and perhaps, iPhone-obsessed that we can’t even stop to appreciate beauty when it is presented in front of us? Or, perhaps, the rushed daily grind has made us unable to appreciate the journey, as opposed to the destination during our morning commute and any other part of our day-to-day activities.

More than ever, our world needs music. We need more Joshua Bells. I don’t mean the virtuoso performing type (as talented and wonderful as those are). Rather, I am speaking of the type of Joshua Bell that feels empowered to get out there and make a difference out of a deep inner conviction. What we need is to raise our children to better appreciate the art of self-expression. If a child is taught how to listen, he or she will be able to more effectively understand  and relate to his or her peers. In turn, teaching the ability to listen comes with it the responsibility of teaching the ability to communicate. Music is the ideal tool for teaching these two skills.

The above skills are best taught when there is a strong working relationship between the teacher, parent, and student. This relationship is crucial in setting up the life-long dialogue that a student/child will hone throughout his or her life. How does this work?

It is my opinion that the art of music making is best approached as a journey, rather than a destination. What I mean by this is, rather than seeing a music lesson as a means to one day playing perfectly, the lesson should be seen as an ongoing exercise in communication. A skilled teacher knows how to empower a student to best get the message in the musical score across to the audience. Getting the message across to the audience requires patience, discipline, and proper technique. Week-by-week, the message is presented more and more clearly and the communication of that message is honed in the weekly lesson as “a process of becoming”, rather than in the spirit of instant gratification. What is this “process of becoming”? It is the unending skill of crafting a message to the audience in a meaningful way that ultimately comes out of a deep potentially life-long partnership between performer and composer.

Little by little, the student learns how to communicate effectively through his or her instrument in a myriad of ways. What he or she ultimately finds is that every composer has his or her unique language.

The ability and necessity to communicate different ideas in different musical languages is a skill that translates into all aspects of life, whether it be public speaking, teaching, or even organizing one’s thoughts to solve a complex math or science equation. Yet, in my opinion, the most important skill learned is the ability to communicate as human beings and share one’s experiences in a truly meaningful dialogue, for this results in understanding, and with the right intentions, perfect harmony.

Daniel Broniatowski, D.M.A.
Music to Warm the Heart
Maestro Musicians, LLC
Greater Boston