If you’ve ever suddenly felt a boost in mood after hearing a good song, then you’ve experienced the magic of music. If you’ve ever decompressed after a long day, by jamming out in the car to a feel-good tune, or been brought to tears by a melancholy melody, perhaps paired with somber lyrics, then you know that each individual piece of music can bring its own set of feelings to the surface. Just the thought of some country oldies like “Daddy’s Hands,” “Daddy Never Was The Cadillac Kind,” “Love Without End, Amen,” or “That’s My Job”- they can certainly put someone in a very different state of mind. Music, in itself, can breathe life into various parts of oneself, that you may either wish could come out to visit more often, or alternatively, remain under wraps.
Music is but a vibration, and purposely using it to our advantage can be accomplished. Native Americans, and other indigenous peoples, methodically use musical sounds as a way to enter another realm of consciousness, dancing or listening to a repetitive beat, so as to clear out the mind’s everyday activities. To stave off dangers of developing dementia related problems, experts suggest striving to recall lyrics to old favorite songs which were listened to during younger years. Churches rely on hymns to help parishioners feel a connection to God, communicating both ambience and information through song, in nearly every service. These are but a few examples of how music can help enrich our lives.
When it comes to music, Webster County can boast the expertise of Mrs. Amy Kirk, the piano accompanist for Marshfield High School choir, who has been through extensive musical training. She began studying piano at age 5, learning to read music and play classical pieces through high school and college, and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance from Missouri State University. She has accompanied for a large variety of violinists and vocalists, and she and her husband lead worship at their church, where she also plays the piano. Amy also spreads the love of music by teaching individual piano lessons. She helps us understand musicality from her expert’s point of view.
To Amy, “Music is an expression of thoughts and feelings in a language that is universal. It crosses the language barrier and unifies us as humans. It is a feast of sounds and rhythms for the brain, and there are many studies which show that early musical involvement for children is a predictor of future academic success,” as she describes all that music means to her.
Amy shares, “My favorite classes during my formal piano training were music history and my weekly private lesson. I have always been a bit of a history buff, so learning about all of the musical styles and historical influences on music was fascinating. That is a little nerdy, but nevertheless true. And my weekly piano lesson was always a challenge, but it grew me as a musician. Working with professors who went to Eastman School of Music and performed as soloists and chamber musicians was very motivating.”
What can anyone do to benefit from music, even if not taking formal lessons? Amy suggests, “Listen to all kinds of music that you enjoy, but especially try to listen to symphonic or orchestral music. Do this because music of this type will challenge you and will provide an opportunity to focus exclusively on music without the words. Especially young children, even babies, can benefit from this because their brain will be tracking the music and not focused on language learning. And finally, anytime you can attend a live performance of solo or chamber or orchestral music, do it!”
As for Amy’s musical preferences, “My favorite genre of music (and it is difficult to choose just one) would have to be Baroque music. Familiar baroque composers are J.S. Bach, Handel and Domenico Scarlatti. These composers were very prolific, writing scores of complex works for single instruments, voice and large ensembles. Baroque music is known for its decorated style of many parts going on at the same time and yet fitting together. It was a very elevated style, and many works are still performed today such as Handel’s "Messiah."”
Whatever your own musical preferences, the Marshfield Mail hopes you enjoy the huge benefits that this special, uniquely human, part of life has to offer!
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