As I watched the celebration festivities of the inauguration, once again I saw what we all see and experience in these moments.
The tireless heroes in the medical community were honored. The hopes and dreams of young people were lifted up in every field through stories told by people in areas of sports, business, innovation and technology. The breakthrough of our first woman VP was celebrated.
Throughout all of it, the entire event was punctuated by MUSIC, from the military band to Garth Brooks and everything in between. MUSIC accompanied the impressive fireworks at the end, and framed the moments of reflection as we collectively mourned the loss of over 400,000 Americans to this pandemic. MUSIC brings it all together and gives our hearts and minds a moment of respite, joy, memory, hope and possibility. MUSIC synthesizes the emotions of the moment, and unites our spirits. Couldn't you feel it?
MUSIC, ART, STORY-TELLING, DANCING, THEATER, FILM AND LITERATURE... all the ways we communicate and find a path of expression when nothing else will suffice. We were moved by the stunning youth poet laureate that day, and inspired by the stories of "first-time" elected servants to our government on all levels. Through all of this, MUSIC was integrated and laced throughout the tapestry of the day, as it is at weddings, funerals, graduations and myriad celebrations across the globe.
MUSIC brings it all together, and brings us together, softening the edges of our perceived differences. It has since the beginning, when music and stories were first enjoyed around a campfire.
For those who continue to mandate cutting MUSIC programs, or insist on taking it out of our schools, or refuse arts funding at local, state and national levels, I ask: "Who will play for you if you take this all away?"
MUSIC is not a peripheral activity. It is a foundational component of every culture — and of every great educational system. It is worth our investment.
The arts illustrate our humanness and give voice to what truly matters. From strumming a lullaby on a guitar for a small child who needs to be calmed, to the energy and visceral excitement of a full symphony orchestra playing in solidarity after the Berlin Wall came down.
MUSIC heals and transforms us. It cannot be diminished, it cannot be silenced, it is not "extracurricular."
MUSIC is necessary for us to survive as people, and provides wonder, healing and imagination to a world that aches for beauty and peace. ♦
Dr. Jody Graves is professor of piano studies and graduate program director for music at EWU.