Muse Power: How Recreational Music Making Heals Depression and Other Symptoms of Modern Culture (Chapter 3, page 2 of 6)


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Chapter 3

"To western minds, music is generally considered to be a rare talent possessed only by a few. As a consequence, most contemporary thinkers who have pondered the evolutionary contribution of music to human life regard it as an inexplicable "mystery" because it is so unevenly distributed among individuals. (e.g. Barrow, 1995). If one looks at traditional societies, however, it is evident, that music is as broadly endowed as any other human capacity, and virtually everyone participates in music making. Differences in performing and composing ability are attributed to differences in individual interest and desire, not to special endowment." (Feld, 1984:390)."

There is a tremendous amount of research that explores the concept of "talent" vs. "acquired skill" and it repeatedly shows that talent isn't necessarily a true concept. "Talent" being defined as a genetic propensity or something "special" in the development of the brain. We've been sold yet another illusionary story. Traditional cultures realize this, but the western mind is still living sadly in this thought process that musicians or artists, or dancers are born, not crafted. Musicologists and cognitive scientists have studied expertise for over 3 decades. "In almost all cases, musical expertise has been defined as technical achievement." (36) In other words, Practice! People who become more musically proficient simply practice more, they have more commitment to it, they want to learn, and so spend countless hours working, learning and practicing. The practice does in fact increase the size of that part of the brain that is used for the practice, but it has not been discovered that it happens the other way around. Considering a healthy normal child, we are all born with equal potential to music! (Footnote, for detailed info on this topic, see Chapter 7 in Daniel Levin's Book, This is your brain on music)

In today's Modern world a musician is "defined" as a person who plays music or composes music. Sometimes the term can include other people who produce music such as: * A vocalist uses his or her voice as an instrument.

* Composers and songwriters write music.

* A conductor coordinates a musical ensemble.

The concept of the musician and the status of the musician in society varies from culture to culture. Both singer and instrumentalist can be improvisers, who create new music in real time. Musicians can be either amateur or professional. Professional musicians are paid musicians who use performing as their main source of income. They may work freelance, enter into a contract with a studio or record label, be employed by a professional ensemble such as a symphony orchestra, or be employed by an institution such as a church or business (such as a bar). Musicians usually attempt to attain a high level of proficiency, constantly practicing to develop the skills needed to perform their chosen style. For example, the practice of scales and modes by Instrumentalists. " (5)

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