When reading through other blog posts on MTH this month I notice that the focus is on ‘back to school’ for most of the writers. Down here in the Southern Hemisphere we’re in the second half of the teaching year and my students are currently in the thick of the eisteddfod/competition season and are looking ahead to the end of year exam sessions in a few months time. Consequently, the focus in my studio over the past month has been memorisation. [···]
The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature is a fascinating book with the premise that there are six functions of song (music) in human culture. He backs up his ideas with scientific data, and he frequently uses tales from his own experience as a musician and record producer (in his pre-research scientist days). He works to answer the questions “Why is there music?” and “Are we musical because our brains made us that way, or are our brains adapted to music because we are musical?” He explores the social advantages to being a musical being and through the six categories of song, he presents a very cohesive and coherent argument.
The six categories of song, as posited by Levitin, are: Friendship, Joy, Comfort, Knowledge, Religion and Love. Songs of Friendship are songs of camaraderie, togetherness and creating a functional large group. The selective advantages (Levitin talks of evolutionary advantages) of being in a group that works together for a collective whole are obvious. Society as we know it could not exist if we were unable to get along within larger collectives of people. A big way of getting a group to work as a unit is through music. Think of the last time you were at a baseball game and everyone sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” The entire stadium is able to work together as a unit. Also, “Music has historically been one of the strongest forces binding together the disenfranchised, the alienated.” (61) [···]
Do you have an instrument repairer who you could call on at the last minute if something goes wrong just before a performance? Do you now teachers who you would be willing to pass students onto if your studio is full? Do you have teachers who refer students to you? Do you have a physiotherapist who understands the nature of your instrument? [···]