For any hearing person, music is integral to our lives.
Every country has a national anthem which may be taught in schools and played or sung at many and varied ceremonies and occasions, inspiring unity and national pride. Many other organisations such as schools and colleges have their songs praising their strengths and fostering a sense of identity. Couples have their special or ‘theme’ songs.
When we enter a store we are serenaded with music chosen to make us feel comfortable and entice us to stay longer and buy more.
Joyful advertising jingles with their subliminal messages encourage us to memorize the product name and make it our next purchase. These jingles can stay in our heads for years, like this famous one about Louie the Fly:
A few bars of a song can revive memories from long ago. I have written about this previously in a flash fiction piece, Vagaries of time.
Music can call us to dance, to relax, to sing, to cry. It can be chosen to match our mood, or can help to create a mood or atmosphere. The soundtrack of a film or television show tells the audience what to expect and how to feel.
Music is also an integral part of education and learning. Learning information in a song can help one remember. Many people like to have music playing when they are reading or studying. I did when studying towards my high school exams, but now I prefer quiet when I write. Programs such as Accelerated Learning recommend using Baroque music to help learners stay relaxed and focused, increasing retention.
I have previously written about using songs in the classroom, such as I love the mountains which I learned from Bill Martin Jr. and affirmation songs such as those of Anne Infante here and here. I have also composed class songs and chants such as Busy Bees chant, and used songs to support class work, for example The Ugly Bug Ball when learning about mini-beasts.
I have used music to calm and settle after play breaks, and music for activity between seated activities. I used songs in the morning to signal to children that it was time to be ready for the day’s learning, including action songs or songs about our learning, for example a phonics song:
But of course, once we were settled, every day started with an affirmation song, or two. It got everyone into a happy expectant mood. It’s hard to be sad when singing (unless it’s a sad song).
. . . and songs in the afternoons to send the children home happy and singing with joy.
As a year level we would sing songs to settle the children when lining up to return to class after lunchtime play. The children hurried to join in and sang their way joyfully into class. This is quite different from when I was at school and we would line up in silence and then march into school in step, subdued and quietly obedient.
I composed songs as a child but did not continue the practice as an adult, except for one: a lullaby that I sang to soothe my baby girl to sleep. A few years later I decided to learn to play the keyboard from a very talented musical friend who guided my writing of the accompanying music. This remains my one real musical accomplishment!
For someone who does not consider herself at all musical I certainly enjoy, and promote the use of, music in many different ways.
On that note, I leave you with my flash fiction response to the prompt set by Charli Mills of Carrot Ranch Communications: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story influenced by a musical score.
A collective gasp interrupted the music mid-beat.
All eyes turned synchronously, as if worked by unseen strings, towards the French doors, burst open and revealing a silhouetted figure framed by billowing gossamer-like curtains.
Out of the darkness the figure emerged: clothed in black with coat tails flapping, a top hat in one hand and a white-tipped cane held aloft in the other.
The conductor revived the orchestra as the figure glided across the floor, seized the heroine decisively and whirled her around and around.
The spell now broken, the cast joined in the dance to tumultuous applause.
I hope you can imagine the score that would be written to accompany this piece and its change of moods.
What score would you give it?
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of the article or my flash fiction piece.