The Natural Process of Music as a Language
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Music: The Common Language
Even from a very early stage in life we are surrounded by tones and Rhythms, both encompassing what we know as “Music”. We believe music comes from instruments, well yes, but we can also find music everywhere we go. As a matter of fact, take a minute and listen to your surroundings… What do you hear? Do you hear some rhythms? Do you hear some tones? or perhaps you are hearing nothing?
You might be hearing a bird chirping a song, or a neighbor banging on your door, you might hear your co-worker tapping on a keyboard or you might hear a rhythmic laugh across the street. Music is everywhere, we can’t deny it, and even the presence of silence fits into Music.
But do we learn Music as we get older or are we born with this fantastic ability?
Just as a child learns a spoken language for the first time, a child can also learn the language of Music as easy and as natural as their mother tongue.
According to Victor Wooten, who narrates and performs in this video, “Music works better than the spoken word because it doesn’t have to be understood to be effective”
In this wonderful video directed by TED-Ed and narrated and performed by Victor Wooten, he shares his vision of how music can be seen and learned as a language, even from an early age.
You can find the transcription below the video.
Music is a language.
Both music and verbal languages serve the same purpose. They are both forms of expression.
They can be used as a way to communicate with others, they can be read and written, they can make you laugh or cry, think or question and can speak to one or many and both can definitely make you move.
In some instances, music works better than the spoken word because it doesn’t have to be understood to be effective. Although many musicians agree that music is a “language” it is rarely treated as such.
Many of us treat it as something that can only be learned by following a strict regiment under the tutelage of a skilled teacher. This approach has been followed for hundreds of years with proven success… but it takes a long time. Too long.
Think about the first language you learned as a child. More importantly, think about how you learned it.
You were a baby when you first started speaking and even though you spoke the language incorrectly you were allowed to make mistakes – and the more mistakes you made, the more your parents smiled!
Learning to speak was not something you were sent somewhere to do only a few times a week. The majority of people you spoke to were not beginners, they were already proficient speakers. Imagine your parents forcing to only speak to other babies until you were good enough to speak to them! You’d probably be an adult before you could carry on a proper conversation.
To use a musical term, as a baby you were allowed to “jam” with professionals. If we approach music in the same natural way we approached our first language, we would learn to speak it in the same short time it took to speak our first language.
Proof of this can be seen in almost any family where a child grows up with other musicians in the family.
Here are a few keys to follow in learning or teaching music:
In the beginning embrace mistakes instead of correcting them. Like a child playing air guitar there are no wrong notes.
Allow young musicians to play and perform with accomplished musicians on a daily basis.
Encourage young musicians to play more than they practice. The more they play, the more they will practice on their own.
Music comes from the musician, not the instrument.
And most importantly, remember that a language works the best when we have something interesting to say.
Many music teachers never find out what their students have to say. We only tell them what they are supposed to say.
A child speaks a language for years before they even learn the alphabet. Too many rules at the onset will actually slow them down.
In my eyes the approach to music should be the same.
After all, music is a language too.
* Victor Wooten is an American bass player, composer, performer, author, producer, teacher, acrobat and magician. Winner of five Grammy Awards and voted one of the Top Ten bassists of all time according to Rolling Stone Magazine.
* TED-Ed is a free educational website for teachers and learners with a commitment to create lessons worth sharing. Their approach to education is an extension of TED’s (Technology, Entertainment and Design) mission of spreading great ideas.
It is important to note that Mr. Wooten shares one of his keys to learning and teaching music as encouraging young musicians to play more than they practice. “The more they play, the more they will practice on their own”
Incorporate this perspective into your own musical development and that of your family and children. This way, the process of learning music and playing an instrument will be a fun, fresh and positive experience!
123 Rock School of Music is dedicated to teaching and nurturing music development in all individuals regardless of age. We believe music is an important factor in our own personal, physical and spiritual development, as it enhances our lives in a wide range of aspects regardless of musical background, exposure or history in your family, age, ethnicity, gender or religion. We offer music lessons in a variety of instruments, including Piano Lessons and Guitar Lessons in Newbury Park, Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, Oak Park, Calabasas, Woodland Hills, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Encino, among other cities in Southern California.