Sunday, August 02, 2009

Sing the old songs...

I  miss my choir, now that I have stepped down as director. This feeling is not unique.
An interesting corollary is that our exposure to different types of music, and hence our musical literacy, has certainly expanded, but perhaps at a cost. As Daniel Levitin has pointed out, passive listening has largely replaced active music-making. Now that we can listen to anything we like on our iPods, we have less motivation to go to concerts or churches or synagogues, less occasion to sing together. This is unfortunate, because music-making engages much more of our brains than simply listening. Partly for this reason, to celebrate my 75th birthday last year, I started taking piano lessons (after a gap of more than sixty years). I still have my iPod (it contains the complete works of Bach), but I also need to make music every day. [More]

It is difficult to explain how music - in my case choral music- adds to our lives, but its absence is clearly experienced. I think one reason I identify with my British ancestry is their enduring heritage of choral singing. (Maybe I have some Welsh in me too).

But the point made above seems valid.  Music may be ubiquitous today, but only in a passive sense.  And it appears singing could be something that adds greatly to our later years.

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