Howdy! It's time for another essay contest winner!
Our second place winner, Gunnar Salyer, grew up in Balamba, Mozambique, East Africa. He stumbled into bluegrass through a Google search for country guitar lessons and he's been pickin ever since! Gunnar isn't sure just yet what he plans to do next. He's currently stuck in Texas (a great place to be stuck if you ask me!) due to international travel restrictions until he can get back to his family in Mozambique. Whatever he decides to do, it will definitely involve music. He's a talented picker and I can't wait to see what God has in store for him!
I know you'll enjoy Gunnar's essay as much as I did!
Live Music Is Vital To Community Flourishing by Gunnar Salyer
I’m going to argue that yes, live music is vital to community flourishing, and I’ll try to outline why I think so.
Due to quarantine procedures, obviously all live performances have been canceled…or have they? I noticed one of the first things that happened when large gatherings were banned was that immediately musicians started live-streaming music. Why didn’t they just record themselves playing and post videos? I think it’s because there is a special interaction between people and musicians when music is played live that otherwise isn't there.
If you have a look back through history, you’ll notice that almost all of the most passionate, united and determined groups of people had a proud musical tradition that was passed through live performances. From dances to storytelling, royalty to peasants, people have a natural connection to live music.
One of the defining aspects of most cultures is their musical traditions, and most of the best defined cultures are well known for their music. Have a look at the Irish for example. Their musical traditions passed from generation to generation in live settings have influenced the entire world, and instantly unify any Irish people regardless of background, position, religious or political views, or region. Whenever they hear a well played jig or reel, they forget all their differences for a moment and just enjoy the music and the fact that they’re Irish.
In fact, one of the first things that usually happens when one country or culture subjugates another is they forbid them from any form of traditional music or dance. This is done in an effort to demoralize the people, because if you let them have their live music, they'll be united and a united people is a dangerous people.
In this American culture of private and separated living, it gets increasingly hard to actually find community rather than just a handful of people who might be in the same place. Music takes groups of individuals and turns them into a community.
It is no surprise that there are so many sold out concerts, huge music festivals, jams, and buskers. Humans crave community, and live music gives them community. One of the last things I did before lockdown was attend a live concert, and one of the first things I did when we were released was take an instrument to the park and play for my own enjoyment and that of those bystanders who cared to listen. Doing so enabled me to meet some people I never would have otherwise.
Music has created many opportunities for me, and the community of musicians is one of the best communities there is. Playing music has given me so many amazing friends, opened numerous doors, and been the most fun I've ever had. I wouldn't trade my musical experiences for anything.
So go out and experience some live music. Either as a performer or as an audience, both are equally fulfilling and will strengthen your community and make you new friends. If you don't, you're missing out on an amazing experience.