What is music? Music, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is vocal, instrumental, or mechanical sounds having rhythm, melody or harmony. When people come across the term “music”, most of them think of singers like Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, and songs like Lucid Dreams and Better Now. But for me, music means composers like Dvořák and Mozart, and pieces like New World Symphony and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.
Music has always played a major role in my life. It introduces me to different kinds of people, provides a temporary distraction from the busy world, and allows me to express myself freely without worrying about other people’s judgments.
Over the past summer, I attended Meadowmount School of Music, which was a 7-week long summer camp in northern New York. Most students, between ages eight and 30, came to this camp to pursue a passion for classical music. I was one of the few students who came from Missouri, and my friend group expanded with people from Australia and Denmark, with 8-year-old children and 28-year-old adults.
Carrie, one of my best friends, and I met in Meadowmount. Since I did not really learn the violin seriously before going to this camp, my life was very different from the lives of my friends there. Most of them had performed in Carnegie Hall, and many were students at Juilliard Pre-College. Because of my excessive t-shirts from math and science competitions, I was considered a weirdo for having strong interests in STEM-related fields instead of improving my violin techniques. I am still in touch with my friends at Meadowmount and will be for the rest of my musical carrier. Music bounds different kinds of people together more than anything else.
Music also allows me to take a short break from my busy life. Classes and homework packed my school days, I barely have a chance to breathe. Sitting down and practicing my violin for a brief 30 minutes allows myself to calm down, and popping up a playlist of Chopin while doing homework helps me to focus more on my task. Research has even proved that listening to 45 minutes of classical music before sleeping can significantly improve sleep qualities and that listening to music, in general, can effectively reduce stress.
Classical music is one of the most direct tools one can have to understand and develop different emotions with different instruments, dynamics, and techniques. Since it does not have any words, the composer can only express themselves through pure melodies and harmonies. Whenever I am feeling down or need something emotional to listen to, Elgar Cello Concerto performed by Jacqueline du Pre is my go-to piece. The gloomy chords and du Pre’s tragically short musical career due to complications of multiple sclerosis blend perfectly, and being alone in the moment of listening to her performance provides a safe place for me to express my feelings without worrying about the opinions from others.
I have always felt embarrassed when people ask me what my favorite song is because my answer will not be any modern music. However, I realize now that a passion for music does not necessarily mean it has to be pop or country music, there is nothing different about loving classical music. I can confidently have conversations with people about the different styles that different composers used, and how their life stories affected their compositions. Classical music should be part of everyone’s lives, and we should all embrace it with respect.