The Transformative Power of Music


Timothy Bulson, Staff Writer

Music is a universal language that has united people since the beginning of recorded history, with records back to 1400 B.C.E.
It has brought people together since the Stone Age, and it is constantly evolving and changing; however, the longest existing genre by far is classical music, with pieces being written as early as the 16th century and lasting all the way to recent history.

Sadly, classical music has somewhat fallen out of favor, and other genres have taken its place, but it’s important not to forget the power it holds.

Benjamin Zander is the director of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the top orchestras in the world.

In 2008, he gave a presentation on the power of classical music, and its ability to influence listeners.

In his presentation, he touched on a few topics, including the different attitudes towards classical music, he explained he believes there are four groups of opinions on the genre.

The first group is those who absolutely adore classical music. They listen to it whenever they can.

The second group are those who don’t mind it and would listen every once in a while if it came on the radio.

Members of the third group don’t have any classical music in their lives. It just isn’t a part of their day-to-day listening.

The fourth group consists of people who consider themselves tone deaf and hate classical music. Zander claims that this fourth group is unacceptable, and has the wrong idea. He says it’s impossible for you to be tone deaf and references answering the phone and knowing who it is as an example.

After dividing the audience into these four groups, he vows that he will not leave until every person in attendance can grow to appreciate and understand classical music, and by the end of his presentation, he receives a standing ovation, and remarks on the “sparkling eyes” of the audience, and knows he has done his job.

Zander’s full presentation is linked below, and I strongly encourage you to watch it. Zander does an amazing job at showing his passion and giving the audience an insight into it, and keeping it entertaining and funny. It’s all in all an amazing and moving experience.

Dr. Bowles, the Director of Bands at James Island Charter High School has been playing music since she was ten years old. She has been exposed to classical music throughout her career, and believes it’s an important part of her life.

When asked about her thoughts on classical music, Dr. Bowles responded, “For me personally, classical music creates a sense of longing for everything–happiness, nostalgia, grief. It allows me to feel that, and when I play it, I am able to give that feeling to others.”

She remarks on how powerful a piece can be, and the ability it has to move a listener, and invoke emotion. Many classical pieces don’t have words to describe the emotion being portrayed, instead the music tells a story and gives the audience the tools to tell their own.

“Everyone experiences music differently. The way I might experience a piece will be completely different to the way someone else does… telling my story through the music, lets me give other people the opportunity to experience their own story, and have their own longing,” Bowles said.