by Director of Arts Jane Massingham
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” Plato
“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” Albert Einstein
If Plato, considered by many to be the most important philosopher who ever lived, and Einstein, one of history’s greatest mathematicians and physicists, used these words to describe the importance, beauty and life-giving essence that music holds, then I cannot disagree. As the world in 2020 deals with the many effects of an infectious virus, the value of music has never been more vital to the human heart and soul. According to Professor Eric Clarke, Oxford expert on the psychology of music, “Covid-19 has created an international musical reaction, a striking response, which bears out scholarship on the beneficial impact of music making. It’s very striking that, from early on in this serious phase, people have felt moved or motivated to make music. Music is a collective experience which can overcome physical distance, since one of the advantages of the auditory domain is that physical distance doesn’t necessarily impede social togetherness.” He goes on to say, “This Covid-19 crisis is a vivid demonstration of just how quickly people have turned to music to express and participate in a sense of social belonging”.
With that sense of social belonging in mind, the Cultural Department at the College has been fully active in continuing with both the instrumental and cocurricular education of the students throughout Semester 1. Like all educational areas, the instrumental, vocal and speech lessons moved seamlessly into an online learning format before the end of Term 1. Both tutors and students embraced this new way of learning, continuing their music education, whilst also supporting both their mental and physical health. Our dance troupes, Bridgettes groups, choirs, instrumental ensembles and drama clubs all moved into the online world, with the use of Microsoft Teams. The tutors held sectional rehearsals or produced dance videos and vocal recordings to aid the students in their participation of the online rehearsals. The benefits to the students’ mental health and wellbeing were clear to see, as shown by the testimonials of parents. “It was lovely to hear the teachers interacting with the students each Wednesday morning – thank you for your positivity, thoughtfulness and engaging program for these students – it’s been lovely to hear my daughter laughing away and enjoying drama remotely,” said one parent. There are numerous articles and literature to support the importance of music in the development of the human brain. “Music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears – it is a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ear. But for many of my neurological patients, music is even more – it can provide access, even when no medication can, to movement, to speech, to life. For them, music is not a luxury, but a necessity.” (Sacks, 2007)
It has been made more apparent in this semester of learning that never has the value of music been more necessary. Music has brought creativity, connection, heart and joy, to the minds and souls of the Brigidine cocurricular students’ worlds.
Reference: Sacks, O. (2007). Musicophilia: Tales of music and the brain. Picador.