Why does music have a unifying effect? by Celia Klassen Time for Tea

I was a member of my school orchestra, and I’m totally envious that we didn’t have marching bands in England because I would have been all over that. Whenever I meet new people I find myself nervous, but if I find that they are also musical, there is an instant bond and common ground there.
Music has a remarkable ability to unify people across boundaries including cultural, linguistic and social differences. How many movies are there where some type of art, whether it’s music or dance, comes into a rough area and completely changes the people? But why does music have such a unifying effect?
It’s a universal language. A band could be created with a Frenchman, a German, a Russian, an American, a Chinaman and an African tribal member. It could include the wealthiest woman in the world, and the poorest woman begging for a cup of rice to feed her family. It could include someone with mental disabilities, and the smartest person in the world. All those differences would melt away as they joined in playing music with each other.
Music also has the power to evoke a wide range of emotions. Why is music used in the background of movies? Have you ever considered a movie where there is speech, but no music? We wouldn’t know when something bad was about to happen, or when things were exciting! An upbeat song can keep you going on a run, or keep you going in your spring cleaning. A sad song can reduce you to tears. A sweet song can raise your spirits on a dark day.
Although different cultures have different approaches to and styles of music, usually musicians can appreciate and enjoy music of different cultures. Even different styles within a culture can be appreciated. For example, I would have to say that my two least favorite music genres are opera and rap. However, I can appreciate them in their place, and the skill involved in them. I can gain cultural exchange and understanding in listening to other cultures’ music.
As I have found in researching the history of this area, music plays a central role in communal activities. Although music can be played alone, most musicians (professional or amateur) prefer to play with others, or for others. Singing together, or playing as a music group, or listening as a group to someone play fosters a sense of community and togetherness.
There is also the therapeutic aspect of music. Many people incapable of speech can express themselves through music. It can help the oppressed with self-expression. Music can even be used in educational aspects. For example, who can spell Mississippi without singing the little song? I can’t. Who can recite the alphabet without singing the song?
Lastly, music does not discriminate by age. Perhaps other games would. My grandma could no longer run around in the yard with me, but she could sit and sing with me, or play the piano. Old and young can participate in music together equally.
We don’t have to be musical to participate in this powerful force. Put that music on and sing as loud as you want. Sing like nobody is listening. Play that happy music on the sad days and the calm music on the stressful days and experience the positive influence music can have over your life.

Thanks for reading!

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