Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Value of Music

Four months ago I received an email from an old friend, which contained the transcript of a speech that was given on September 1, 2004 at The Boston Conservatory by Dr. Karl Paulnack, director of the Music Division.  It was one of those messages that start with the header of a forwarded message, showing a dozen or so email addresses that it had been forwarded to before it arrived in my in box.  Often such emails contain bad (or good) jokes, appeals for some sort of political action, or the like.  Most of these get deleted after a quick scan of their content.

This one was different.  I read it and wrote back, "Wow, a really really fantastic speech.  I completely agree with what he said.  Thanks for sending it."

Mind you, this speech had been making its way around the internet from one in box to another more than five years after the speech was given. Clearly I was not the only one to find it to be fantastic!

But it only planted a seed for further thought at that time.  You see, the email had arrived just two days after Marcia had ended her battle with cancer by leaving her nearly 66 year old crippled body behind.  I had first known this woman almost forty years ago and in the last decade I had come to adore her and know her better than any other person in my life.  That day I was just at the beginning of the mourning process.  My thoughts were with Marcia and I was just going to concentrate on honoring her memory and dealing with her loss, until it felt right to do otherwise.

As I continued along through the mourning process, this seed began to grow and along with other events, contributed to a series of life changing realizations that have given me a new purpose and direction in my life.  This blog is where I will be documenting some of those changes.

So I want to share this speech with you.  In the email I received, the subject header said, Why Music?  It appears on a number of websites with the title, Why Music Matters.  After appearing on many other websites, The Boston Conservatory finally put it up on their own website, with the title, Karl Paulnack Welcome Address.  I will not copy it onto my blog, as many others have done, as Dr. Paulnack deserves to have more direct control over his own writing.

But I will quote one part from it.

"Music is a basic need of human survival.  Music is one of the ways we make sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feelings when we have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we can't with our minds."

When I told my friend that "I completely agree with what he said," it was this idea that I was writing about.  And that role of music in life has been manifested for me as I have been going through this mourning process, just as he describes it.  So this is at the core of why I am creating this blog.  I will be coming back to this idea in many ways.

So I want you to go to The Boston Conservatory website and read the speech for yourself.  And if you find yourself moved, like I was, I hope you will return to this blog and join me to explore this subject in the future.

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