Tuesday, February 24, 2009

i believe...

my students are working on essays of personal belief right now, so i thought i would join them in the exercise. here's my attempt at an essay of personal belief:

i believe in the power of music to change things.

when i was a little girl i had a walkman. it was my second skin, my defense mechanism against a cruel outside world. i listened to it constantly, escaping into the sounds it filled my head with. it played mostly pop those days, but as i and my music tastes have grown, so has my belief in the efficacy of music.

in college, in addition to my major i began studying ethnomusicology, the study of music as it relates to the culture it emanates from. it was during this time of musical exploration that music became less of a defense and more of a means to change. i studied counter-cultures and the music that sprang from them: bob marley, thomas mapfumo, jimi hendrix, janis joplin, bob dylan, and even more recent artists like the flobots.

as i listened and studied it occurred to me that artists composed their songs around the changes they wished to see in the world. in the words of the flobots:

“put your hands up high if you haven't abandoned
hope that the pen stroke is stronger than the cannon
balls to the wall, nose to the grindstone
my interrogation techniques leave your mind blown
place your bets lets speak to the enemy
don't let em pretend that we seek blood
and who's we anyways kemo sabe?
mighty warlord wanna-be street thug
a threat for a threat leaves the whole world terrified
blow for blow never settles the score
word for word is time need clarify
we the people did not want war”

they used their music as a gateway, a mouthpiece for change, and i respected them for it. bob marley:
“until the philosophy which hold one race
superior and another inferior
is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned
everywhere is war, me say war”

i’ve played a few instruments but i am no musician. instead, i am a connoisseur of music—revolutionary or otherwise. music helped me escape from the demons of my youth, helped light my path in adolescence, and guides me still today. it can change my mood in an instant, inspire, and focus me.

music is power. it is force. it is change. use it wisely.

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