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  • Is Music Heavy Metal - or Heavy Mettle?

    By Dendy Jarrett |

    Is Music Heavy Metal - or Heavy Mettle?

    Making music helps make us who we are…



    by Dendy Jarrett




    Dear Musician, 

    The term about “the mettle of a man” first appeared in print in 1619. Originally, mettle and metal (shiny objects) were interchangeable. Then, at the turn of the 18th Century, the two began to diverge, and “metal” was more about a shiny substance, and “mettle” was more about someone’s character. Of course, these days “metal” is also a type of music—which may have more in common with “mettle” than one might think.


    In fact, maybe we need a new concept: music as “heavy mettle.”  If a person’s character is the sum of various life experiences, there is no doubt music has a profound influence on who we become.


    Plenty of surveys show that children involved in music classes develop higher verbal skills and visual abilities; at the other end of the mortality curve, music can help keep the brain healthy—and even enhance the memory of those with Alzheimer’s. In a study by the American Psychological Association about the correlation between learning music and IQ, a researcher found that six-year-olds who had one year of instrumental music study had significantly higher IQs than those who didn’t have music lessons. Music also strengthens the heart and releases endorphins in the brain that improve vascular health.


    But what contributes to your mettle goes beyond medical studies. If you’ve been in a band, you’ve probably learned about team work (and maybe even child psychology, depending on the band)…and learned what it takes to overcome stage fright. There’s discipline involved in learning an instrument that can translate into “sticktoitiveness” later in life.


    So if you’re healthier, smarter, more comfortable in social situations and more persistent in reaching your goals than other people, it’s very likely it’s because you’ve been shaped by the heavy mettle of music—or even derived many of these benefits just by listening to it.


    The ancient Greek philosopher Plato was known for his writings on justice, beauty, aesthetics, political philosophy, theology, the philosophy of language, and more. He once said, “I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning.” And he didn’t stop there—Plato also said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” No one here at Harmony Central disagrees, and you probably don’t either.


    As you keep making better music, what you learn will carry you over into so many different areas of life. So remember that you’re not just playing music—music is also playing you and turning you into a better human being, as well as a better musician.  -HC-


    Join the discussion at Harmony Central





    Dendy Jarrett is the Publisher and Director of Harmony Central. He has been heavily involved at the executive level in many aspects of the drum and percussion industry for over 25 years and has been a professional player since he was 16. His articles and product reviews have been featured in InTune Monthly, Gig Magazine, DRUM! and Modern Drummer Magazines.


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    All due respect, Plato is dead, his writings are therefore no more than writings to be referenced should some minority interest, or scholastic mandate, put eyes on it. Morality and ethos is a duty innate in all men without a reference to the past. If we all look over our shoulders we can contrive a balance between good and evil that qualifies it as a useful guide for the here and now. That means, of course, we must apply the evil to strike such a contrivance. But, oddly enough, past lessons have proved no more useful than as examples of how to better apply evil.


    Enought of that. Look forward with all senses developing a weighted good and allow that to define who we are rather than some figment of the past.


    To mettle the future by offering some poorly forwarded sampling of the past has not been useful beyond curious imagery of men and their contrivances of who they thought they were. Past tense, like the lady said, leave the 60's in the 60's.

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