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  • Writer's picturebkellert

Why music (and art) should matter to everyone: my First Hot Take

Updated: Apr 30, 2020

When I sit and reflect on my life as a (young) musician, especially in these current times and circumstances, there are so many things to be thankful for. Music has impacted me on every possible level - as a student, performer, composer, listener, and a person. It is a world of unknowable depths and infinite rabbit holes, a source of history, politics, creative writing, mathematics (music theory?) and so much more that I never fail to be ensnared by. Through music, I (an otherwise relatively reserved person) have been welcomed into a global community of like-minded people to listen to, work with, play with, befriend, and otherwise spend my life alongside. But none of these aforementioned things are the ultimate reason I continue to dedicate my life to music. The real reason is that it has gifted me with the ability to find my own individual identity, and the means to express it with others.

It’s totally fair to say that this isn’t necessarily special in itself: self-reflection and expression is one of the most obvious and natural consequences of engaging with any art form. What I’ve experienced isn’t anything special, but that never-ending journey is one that I hope everyone gets to experience with the same joy and wonder I have, and getting to share that joy with others is one of the most fulfilling things I do.

The most obvious way this is done is through teaching music itself – picking up an instrument, learning to play it, and eventually performing on it. But this is not mandatory in accessing all of the things that make music (and more broadly art) the essential societal service that it is. I think you can get all of these things simply through active, critical listening to new music, regardless of your experience with its mechanics. This is the reason why music is as popular and important to so many people like it is! Side note: speaking from the perspective of someone who’s gone through maybe a little too much music school, I think it’s really important that we (musicians) remember this, and not in a ‘I need to remember not everyone knows as much as me’ type way, but in a ‘everyone in the world has the equal capacity to engage with and be enriched by music, not just us’ type way.

Which brings me to my next point. If the experience of listening to music with an open, empathetic mind is the most central tenant of our relationship with music, we should make it a priority to listen to as much different music as possible. We should listen to music made by people from all over the world, from all genders and ethnicities. We should listen to music that represents the full range of emotional, cultural and political experience that people around the world face, and learn to appreciate (and maybe love) all the different things that make that music unique. Because through that journey, and that appreciation, we can begin to know ourselves, and grow together so much more.

So! With the overabundance of time and pent-up final semester energy I currently have, I’ve designed this portion of the website with the hopes of writing a bunch of things about music I love. It’ll cover favourite albums in as many genres as I can cover, track the places I’ve been on my personal listening journey so far, and where I have left to go. I don’t want to over-analyse things, but I also don’t want to write overly generalised ‘reviews’ (a problem I see in a lot of music writing). Hopefully it’ll be somewhere in the middle, where I can bring in some of my experience as a musician into my reflections as a listener. It’ll function not as opinion pieces or manifestos of taste, but simply the rambling thoughts of a music lover eager to share experiences and perhaps an album or two in the process.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks so much! I’m as intrigued as you (maybe, probably not) are as to how this all goes.


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