Music is the antidote
Updated: Feb 9, 2018
We have been busy rebuilding our website, networking like wild things and of-course getting up to some pretty wacky music making. We thought it was about time we share another in house musical adventure with you but first wanted to think through some of the reasons that we are embarking upon this project.
The Department for Education released a White paper in 2011 titled ‘The importance of music, A National Plan for Music Education.’ It starts with a statement from Plato that literally took my breath away:
‘Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, and life to everything… Without music, life would be an error.’
I have absolutely no doubt that my partner in crime and co-founder Malik Tokwe would agree with this wholeheartedly but I needed to spend a little more time with the assertion to let it settle in, life without music would be an error.
Many of the sources I have explored extoll the role of music in improving self-esteem and an Ofsted report has linked these benefits to improved educational progress (Ofsted 2009 cited by Department for Education 2011). Another flurry of papers outline the role of music making in improving self-reliance promoting a sense of achievement and increasing self-confidence (Spychiger, et al, 1993; Zulauf, 1993; Harland, 2000 cited by Department for Education 2011; Stevens 2015 writing for Mother Nature Network). Whilst much of the research seems to centre on the impact on children and the need for provision in schools, The BBC’s iWonder series relayed some interesting finds with regards to adults. They stated that ‘Adults who learn to play instruments or sing, and
stick with it, can see improvements in their hand-eye co-ordination, memory for sounds, and fine hearing skills, such as the ability to track different voices in a noisy room.’ They also discovered that group drumming lessons for older adults ‘not only improved mood but also an increase in with blood cells, which are vital for effective immune system response’.
Whilst the evidence seems clearly stacked in favour of the benefits of making music, Unite The Beat is not your average instrumental ensemble. We are in love with the found sounds that lie in wait all around us, sampled and then mixed w
ith traditional instruments and vocals to create imaginative soundscapes. We want to use music as a tool for promoting behavioural change, working with value driven companies to tell stories through sound. We want to use it to get people outside into nature to forage for music and connect with each other. The clink of glass straws and tin drinking bottles, the bird song in the morning, the click of the kettle as the water roars it’s readiness for tea, music is all around us. So what information is out there about the role of technology and music?
Technology is cited as playing an ‘important role in supporting, extending and
enhancing the teaching of music. It can help connect communities in ways
that rely less on location; be used to inspire, motivate and stretch pupils,
including those reluctant to engage with music’ (QCA (2005) Futures: Meeting the challenge cited by Department for Education 2011). This statement really resonated with us as not only had we met through recording music but have huge aspirations for using music to facilitate global relationships that challenge discrimination.
To conclude this exploration into the benefits of sound and its relevance to the Unite The Beat concept, I will share a bit of our musical journey with you to assess whether we have been inadvertently benefitting from our music making.
Malik and I first met in South Africa about 8 years ago. It was music that brought us together and I distinctly remember not knowing how to write music a
nd having a violent fear of performing. Fast forward to 2018 and we are about to release an album with our band Fresh School Buddha. It is a slight exaggeration to say that I adore the stage but I certainly have been on it a few times and started to get the hang of it! We are so in love with music that we are making a living helping others engage in music and the hidden pleasures of found sound. So, I think we can safely say that I have developed more confidence, a sense of being able to relate to others and found some purpose and meaning in the world. It seems we have been enjoying the benefits of making music all along. M
y mornings musings have allowed me to digest Plato’s assertions and I have to say It seems he might have had a clear view of things right from the start.
We will leave you now with a track made by Malik, music made from stuff, mixed together and laced with his poetic ramblings aka rap!