Is music good for the soul?
The Mozart effect, the concept that early childhood exposure to classical music has an accelerating effect on mental development, has been generally accepted by parents as beneficial. But listening to music--even with focused attention--is a passive experience. The music happens to the listener, not because of them. Luckily, music--like life--offers several different ways to experience it. As children develop their motor skills, they can increase the benefits from musical exposure by flexing their creative muscles; hands-on free-form jamming (a staple of the musical interaction programs available for kids and adults at Fun-do-mental Music in Thousand Oaks) offers individuals the opportunity to be part of the music. Abstract expression through musical involvement empowers kids (and adults) in their own life experience; if they can create avant garde compositions with no previous training, what can’t they do?
At Fun-do-mental Music, we teach people how to be co-composers, not musicians. Labeling oneself a musician automatically creates the illusion of separation. If I am a musician, then those who are not are somehow different from me, somehow less. This is not the philosophy we espouse at Fun-do-mental Music. Our ‘jams’ are all spontaneous collaborative compositions. Every participant becomes composer, musician, and audience all in one, all at the same time. There is no separation, only oneness.
Every new trend in music that generates a new label (e.g., romanticism, modernism, jazz, rock, rap, etc.) splinters the collective concept of music, creating distinctions and judgments where none need exist. But the splintering is not caused by the trend, only the label. The label creates the illusion of separateness. In truth, there is only music, and it’s everywhere, everyplace, and constant. The only thing that changes is our perception of it.
To some people the chirrup of frogs at night and the song of birds in the morning are only noisy distractions, but to others they are the music of nature. The sound they create, however, is the same in both instances, it is only the perception of the listener that finds or excludes the music in the sound. To illustrate this, bird calls, sound effects, even odd vocalizations are all included in Fun-do-mental Music jams. Everything can be determined to be music if we choose to hear it that way.
Expertise in any particular instrument requires dedication and practice. There’s no getting around that fact. But the attitude of the student can be adjusted. Everyone works harder when they love what they’re doing. At Fun-do-mental Music, we expose people to the joy of making music; then, if a child (or adult) wishes to delve further into the subject (or a particular instrument) it’s their decision, so they’re bound to work at it with more enthusiasm. Enthusiasm for life is our ultimate goal. Music is a powerful and creative means to that end.
(Composer/Orchestrator David De Palo is co-owner, along with his wife, concert pianist Seung-Un Ha, of Fun-do-mental Music in Thousand Oaks. Both have master’s degrees in music, De Palo from Peabody, Ha from Juilliard. Their unique interactive music parties, workshops and custom Team Bonding programs were born of their passion to share the magical influence of music to all, including the “non-musical.” They live in Newbury Park with they’re daughters Chloë and Ava, and their stoic tortoise Shelly. www.Fun-do-mentalMusic.com)