By Michael Lund Ziegler
Music for the Sake of Music - Executive and Artistic Director
Throughout my career, I’ve heard many arguments in defense of the need for music education. The most moving and convincing of these have surrounded character building, community, and the simultaneous engagement of more sections of the brain than any other human activity. I know I can point to experiences in various musical settings that have improved my character and helped me understand what is to be a community, how to contribute to that, and then the many benefits that come. Where the brain in concerned, I’ll have to trust the scientific studies, though I have no reason to doubt the idea’s validity. These arguments for the need for music education-the many benefits of music making-are all phenomenal things with truth and merit worth bringing forward and discussing at the appropriate and needed times. However, I don’t think they get to the heart of the matter. The truest value of music, and the act of music making, goes far beyond any of these abstract, however connected, ideas. The truest value of music lies in the music itself.
When we make music, we do indeed experience all of these things-these arguments for its value. But that’s not why we do it. That’s not why a professional cellist plays Beethoven and Bach. That’s not why a high schooler joins their high school band. That’s not why my nearly 2-year-old daughter sings Twinkle Twinkle and Frere Jacque. No, I don’t think anyone approaches music making thinking about how it will improve their performance in another area of their life. We very well may experience those benefits, but that’s not why we do it. And I don’t think we do it just because it’s fun or enjoyable. It is fun. And it is enjoyable (most of the time). But it can also be really hard and sometimes not terribly pleasant. I think it goes beyond any of these ideas. Beyond brain waves and even community, beyond joy or fun. We make music to create. To make something. To make something beautiful. There’s a value in that that goes beyond words, and I think that’s why we defend it in so many abstract ways. It’s so difficult to really pin it down. But in the act of creation, in that brush with beauty, there’s a deeper truth that we all get to be a part of.
That’s why we make music. That’s why music continues to be and why it’s inclusion in our education systems should not only be ruthlessly defended but relentlessly championed. Music, by itself, is all the reason you need. Music for the Sake of Music.