Howdy folks! I'm excited to share the winning essays from the essay contest I had for 2020 graduating seniors!
Our third place winner, April Kurtz, grew up in up state New York and currently lives in the United Kingdom. She started playing guitar when she was 10 years old and has discovered a passion for flatpicking! Now that she has graduated high school, she plans to study occupational therapy (and keep pickin of course)!
You are going to love her fantastic essay!
Live Music: A Powerful Medicine by April Kurtz
On Christmas Eve, 1914, many British and German soldiers fighting in WWI sang Christmas carols to each other across the trenches in Ypres, Belgium. Sounds of exploding shells and gunfire were replaced by peaceful melodies. Enemies became friends, even if for only a few hours. Music was uniting people in a wave of kindness and love.
In a similar way, live music is uniting us today in the midst of a major global crisis. The virus, Covid-19, is ravaging the peaceful and familiar world we used to know. This pandemic has brought isolation, it has brought tears, and it has brought death and despair. Music, however, is bringing the opposite to society: unity, love, joy, and a sense of well-being and happiness. Live music is without a doubt vital for community flourishing, especially in light of recent events.
Recorded performances will never match the camaraderie, inspiration, and love that live performances can convey. There is simply no substitute for that bass thump in your chest, that shiver down your spine, and the thrilling energy that only live music can provide. Live music is heartfelt, and listeners can thrive on the love expressed through a live performance. What exactly is it that makes live music so encouraging, uplifting, and unifying?
People all over the world are using music as a sort of medicine, a therapy to combat the stressful, anxious, and sorrowful aura that these days of lockdown have laid on us. Italians have found a creative way of being spiritually connected while physically separated. They share joy by singing together from their balconies. Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” has been resurrected in multiple countries to drive out fear, loneliness, and depression. New York City apartment residents have enjoyed singing Beetles’ hits from their windows. While on duty, Spanish policemen sing and strum their guitars in an effort to cheer families. In the past weeks of lockdown I have seen how music has uplifted my own community. We have church over the phone on Sundays and occasionally friends offer to sing a hymn. Just a simple song of thanksgiving for another day can go a long way. Families in my neighborhood sing good old American folk and bluegrass songs outdoors so that others can hear and be encouraged. And it works! It makes me want to clap to the beat, and get out my guitar! Live music is powerful.
Anybody can make music, and it is a fun way to fill free time. Over the past few months of social distancing and isolation, I have been jamming and singing with my family and we have had a lot of fun together. There’s nothing like live music to revive the soul and lighten the heart. Thank you to Banjo Ben, the Allen family, and other musicians who have encouraged me and many other music students along the way. Your lessons and your talent have fueled my passion for music and will continue to do so for many years! Music is a part of me and always will be. When times get rough I know that a good song can lift my spirits, and I know that there are always fellow musicians who will strum along with me. Live music is extremely important and is what will hold communities together through difficulty. So as we stride out of this pandemic, let us not forget to make our own music. It will inspire and energize us to do good deeds for our world.