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Music Brings People Together Essay Contest

In a world where so many things are tearing us apart, a love for music seems to continue to bring people together no matter their race, gender or sexuality. The Alestle believes artists like Migos, Beyoncé, J. Cole and Bruno Mars are creating spaces for people to gather judgment-free and enjoy themselves.

Music is one of the first things our brains are programmed to respond to, and has always been something that humans turn to for comfort. Music preceded language through drumming and rhythmic patterns and seems to follow us everywhere we go in life, from lullabies to funerals. Looking back on the highs and lows in one’s life, there is typically a song associated with that feeling or time. Music has the ability to stimulate human memory, not only to create a memory, but also remind us of an old one.

Music is used by many artists as a tool for unification by breaking down barriers that otherwise separate people. Through their music, Migos bring hundreds and sometimes thousands of people together that otherwise would never find anything to relate to. After being thanked by Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, during his Golden Globes acceptance speech, Migos discovered a new level of stardom that expanded them out of the hood and into suburban America.  

Exposure to different genres of music is not only enjoyable, but can also be used as a tool for education. Cultures express themselves differently through the music that they listen to, sing along and perform. Music serves as a tool for people to define themselves and their culture, and allows people to express themselves through performance or even just through listening. Performing and listening to music is a great opportunity for people to learn about one another and experience different cultures firsthand.

With so many things to be upset about, music helps people have something they can always depend on for warmth and comfort on bad days. Music will forever be a social experience that allows us to get together and enjoy catchy lyrics and beats with other people no matter who they are. Music can also connect people through sharing certain songs. For example, some people use Spotify to share playlists and follow each other.

Music not only affects those who listen to it, but also the artists who create it, allowing them to expresses their emotions openly to the public. Whether you are a music enthusiast or not, the best way to express your feelings of anger, love, passion and happiness is through music.

Since music is therapeutic, put on some headphones and enjoy. Take the inspiration from the artists and their lyrics and use it positively in your own life, whether that means uplifting yourself or encouraging a fellow student. And while you’re at it, try branching out and listening to a genre you’re not familiar with. You not only might find a favorite new artist or song, but also be exposed to a new perspective on life and society.

In these trying times, supporting one another and attempting to understand one another is vital to moving forward. Music is one of the simplest and most beautiful ways to do this.

In the words of Troy Bolton and the East High Wildcats, “we’re all in this together.” So let's make the most of it.

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Despite the current political climate where efforts to build walls, ban travel and separate different ethnic groups are increasing, an argument can be made that over time, the forces of globalization are simply too strong and, ultimately, will prevail.

The result is that the U.S. is no longer a virtual island, protected by two major oceans. We can no longer isolate ourselves from the problems, issues and opportunities of the rest of the world. We are part of a global economic and geopolitical system. In so many ways, we are becoming one world.

Rather than trying to build walls we must learn to effectively deal with that reality.

This begs the question: What must our educational institutions do to effectively educate and prepare our children to succeed in this changing global reality?

Increasingly, our schools are being asked to instill in our children not only an awareness and appreciation for changing global circumstances, but also to prepare them to successfully navigate the challenges presented by an increasingly multiethnic and multicultural global community. In other words, proficiency in reading, writing and math is no longer enough.

Today, a quality education must include an understanding of, appreciation for, and the ability to function in a multiethnic, multinational, interrelated world.

If we expect our children and our nation to thrive in the 21st century, our educational policies and programs must take into account these changing challenges and expectations. In particular, this includes priorities and policies relating to the role that music can play in the school curricula.

Music has always been viewed as a powerful tool in breaking barriers and promoting cross-cultural appreciation. That is why, for example, there is a long and strong history of the U.S. State Department using music as a vehicle to promote cultural understanding.

The number of cultural exchange programs that have music groups from countries all over the world travel to America and vice versa are too many to mention. Also consider the radio networks that broadcast American jazz, blues and rock ‘n’ roll to a worldwide audience. Teens are downloading music from around the world on their smartphones.

I was recently reminded of music’s potential in this regard by a fellow musician recounting a visit to Italy. He described two very unexpected highlights. As he and his family entered an open plaza in Rome, they heard, flowing out of a beautiful cathedral, the sound of a choral group in full-throated Latin. Upon further inquiry, they were surprised to discover the group consisted of high school students from all over the United States. They were rehearsing for a performance, one of several they were scheduled to give throughout Europe.

The second occurred at a cafe in Venice, where they noticed a play bill advertising an upcoming appearance by a choral group. Upon closer examination, they saw that the group was a high school chorus from a small town in rural Indiana. Imagine being a high school kid from a country town in middle-America singing in Florence, Italy. How cool is that!

Music is the universal language with an appeal that transcends language, cultural or religious boundaries. The notes played by a musician fall on the ears the same way whether you are American, Muslim, Jewish, African or Mexican. Engaging in musical activities with people of another culture or country can increase cultural understanding and tolerance. It is the ability to build bridges to other cultures and societies that makes music such a valuable educational and cultural tool.

In an increasingly integrated global economy and diverse world community, providing our children access to music education opportunities is critical. Rather than building walls, school and community leaders should be working to leverage the power of music as a universal language to break down barriers and build community.

In today’s world, harnessing music’s power in this regard is more important than ever.

John Gerdy is founder and executive director of Music For Everyone. He can reached through