More Tips?
Receive the latest blogs, advice, lessons, theory and discussion

Riley Music Academy Music Cast: Is Music Important?

FREE 10 Step Guide to becoming a better musician

Enter your details on the homepage to receive your FREE 10 Step Guide


It’s 11.59 and I’ve just returned home from a full day of teaching and a gig. Almost every part of me wants to head upstairs and get some shuteye, and yet, I’ve decided to attempt something dangerous… a post gig, post couple of beers blog post to you lovely subscribers. I don’t know what compels me to write, but I feel a sense of obligation to myself to continue my Thursday musical ramblings.

Here we go…this one could be deep!

Driving home from an enjoyable but poorly attended gig I (as always) started thinking. Is music really that important? There is so much going on in the world that music seems almost laughably trivial, and yet throughout history, music has played an integral part. What is it about music that has stood the test of time and continues to play such a big part in our lives?

In my opinion, music has the potential to draw out emotions. For a British, stiff upper lip type, this has proved to be my saving grace. I personally think that the ‘stiff upper lip’ approach is hugely destructive and anyone who attempts this is either extremely strong willed or hiding something!

I use music almost as an ointment for drawing out deep emotions which need to be addressed. Nothing else really hits the spot. I’ve had some of my most memorable experiences with music and these life changing episodes are (I have to admit) up there with my wedding day and the birth of my sons. As magical as these occasions were, they were almost equalled by some of the spine tingling moments whilst immersing myself in music.

Music has the ability to describe the indescribable. It has the power to trigger emotions hidden deep within your soul. It can connect you to other musicians with what seems like telepathy and an understanding that supersedes the mundane.

When the credit crunch happened in 2007-2008 I (along with the rest of the country) was worried that my profession would be hit. People were losing their jobs and I expected that music would be the first ‘luxury’ to be set aside. Yet it continued. Although the take up for music lessons has reduced and clubs/venues have closed, there is still a demand for music which doesn’t save lives, doesn’t secure our territory and doesn’t have any influence on the FTSE 100.

Why is it that music connects with us the way it does?

What music triggers emotions in you?

I don’t feel qualified or awake enough to answer these questions. I’m generally curious. What do you think?

Leave a comment below.


4 Comments Add a Comment
  1. Carolyn
    September 16, 2016

    Is music’s unique way of connecting partly because it is largely abstract? Even for songs (with words) a substantial portion of what you respond to is not in the words, but in the tune, rhythm, tone colours etc. As such it is open to numerous interpretations, and hence is able to speak differently to individuals depending on their particular circumstances. That could explain why so often, even for music specifically intended to be ‘programmatic’, and hence where the composer thought he/she was portraying something quite identifiable and specific, the ‘programmed’ image or message isn’t necessarily what every listener picks up… Also why you can’t always pin down why a particular piece of music gives you a buzz – it just does! In contemporary culture, where we tend to think we have to understand/explain everything, that is something quite special. Mysterious and wonderful!

    • Jay
      September 17, 2016

      An amazing summary Carolyn. Maybe the music is entangled with certain elements of the individual which is why the spine tingling moments are so unique? It also explains why when I try to explain it to other people they often don’t ‘get it’!

  2. Mark
    September 18, 2016

    You might want to have a look at Oliver Sacks’ book “Musicophilia – Music and the Brain”. Sacks’ books are very readable.

    Meanwhile I agree with Carolyn – I was going to post a similar comment. Also, Pat Crumley (the jazz saxophonist) told me that that the music is always happening – the thing was to tap in to it. I think there is something in this. I don’t mean it in any mystical sense – it may be something entirely natural. I think this is what happens in those sublime moments you refer to.

    Finally, I can’t help but think that the problem for music isn’t economic but pretty much entirely technical. Technology has made music accessible almost anywhere at anytime which, one one level, is a good thing. But, there is no question that it is too easy to replace live music (and indeed musicians) with recorded music. Technology has (in some ways) devalued music and made it too convenient. I wonder where it will end as we produce fewer musicians and music is no longer viable as a profession.

    • Jay
      September 19, 2016

      Very true Mark. Thanks for the comment. I have that book on my amazon wishlist! Maybe I should finally get it now that its been recommended to me once again.

      I think its easy to assume that music has some mystical quality but considering we are lacking in our knowledge of the brain then it could all be natural and have a very tangible and scientific explanation.

      I definitely have a love/hate relationship with technology. Convenience has a price.

Leave a Reply