Lakshmi Rameshwar Rao, Hyderabad
Our world resounds with sound. Despite this, we do not always stop to consider the elements and pieces that combine to make music. We do attend music concerts and buy albums and digital downloads to listen to by ourselves. We listen because music evokes different moods and emotions; it literally strikes a chord within us. Music is a universal language which all human beings can understand and use to communicate.
However, a true understanding of music calls for more than an emotional response. It requires an introduction to the various underlying elements that musicians combine creatively to produce melody and harmony. It also requires the understanding that works of aesthetic value result from the use of set(s) of skills to produce something beautiful. These skills, be they vocal or instrumental, come from hard work and regular practice, not just inspiration.
Appreciation of music points people to what to listen for, how to understand what they are hearing in different elements of music: rhythm, pitch, melody, harmony. The need today is to create user-friendly courses in musical appreciation which do not require the ability to read music. Such courses can be crafted using audio samples that can be accessed quickly with the click of a mouse. The aim of such music education would be to equip the learner with questions they might ask of any piece of music, thereby creating a richer and more comprehensive understanding of music both familiar and unfamiliar as a school of music. These resources should be easily accessible to university classes, musical performing groups and the general public, to address several drawbacks which are encountered in conventional music appreciation.
Individuals deeply interested in music should acquire a solid practical grounding in the musical genre that interests them. They should also aspire to knowledge of the theoretical aspects of music, to deepen their appreciation of the aesthetic. Music, like other arts, plays a central part in the creation of culture. Our wonderful musical heritage is the product of many voices, myriad experiences, many thoughts, ideas and emotions. It needs to be understood, valued, preserved and developed by generations to come.
(The writer has a Masters in Adult Education from Jamia Milia Islamia. She has many years teaching experience at the school level as also ten years of experience in book publishing and some published writing in newspapers and more students’ books. Lakshmi has retired and lives in Hyderabad.)