This week marks the beginning of the 30th South By Southwest festival (SXSW, for short) in Austin, Texas (my favorite city in the world). The festival has grown and evolved into a 10-day, multi-faceted festival for people of all shapes, sizes, and levels of weirdness, but one thing remains the same, the music festival is the crown jewel. Not to take anything away from the tech conference, or the film festival, but in the “Live Music Capital of the World”, the music reigns supreme, and it should.
Why all this talk about SXSW? Well, aside from it being an excuse to write about music, I figured we’d spend a little time discussing the many ways in which music can be used in every situation (or in the case, work, relaxation, and fun).
Ready? Let’s rock this joint!
(Note: I know that line was super cheesy, but I loved it, so there.)
In my own experience, the best way for me to strap in and get to work is to pop in my headphones, put on some (mostly) instrumental music, take a peak at my to-do list, and put the pedal to the metal. Does it work every time? No, but it’s successful far more often than not. Music does something to us. Something that is hard to explain. Music puts us in “the zone”. It’s not that music is some performance enhancer that will make you better at your job, but getting you into “the zone” will make you an unstoppable force leaving only a trail of destruction in your wake.
Trust me, if you’re having trouble getting through the last few hours of the work day, staring out your window at a cloudless, 74° day, itching to be outside (me, right now), music will not only help you get through it, it will lower your stress levels, and make you happier
OK, now the work day is over and you’re just trying to relax and unwind. Let me ask you this, how many times have you gotten home, plopped yourself down on the couch, and turned on the TV? I would imagine that number is higher than maybe you’d like to admit (it’s ok, it is for me, too). Well, instead of turning on the TV right when you get home, put on some music. Put on ANY music. If you’ve had a bad day and want to blast some hard rock, go for it. If your exhausted and want to just relax, put on some easy listening music. Maybe you just want to dance, whatever it is, let it flow through those speakers. You’re feeling something, feed that something with music. Not only will the music fit your mood, it’ll act as a release and bring you to where you want to be. Victor Hugo says it best when he says,
“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”
(He's right, you know.)
I’m a big proponent of having music on (almost) all the time. I’d say that I have something playing in my ears 85% of my waking hours, which means there is a constant soundtrack to my life, and that’s awesome. Why is that awesome? Because that means I can go 12 years without hearing a song, hear it at a party, or a random get together, and be instantly transported back in time (Did I just discover time travel? It’s highly likely.)
Not only will music allow you to relive some of your fondest (or saddest, sorry about that) memories, it’ll also allow you to create new memories. I can’t tell you how many people I have met that I thought I would have nothing in common with, only to find out we had a shared love for a certain band. You know what happened next? You guessed it.
Music makes all social situations better. Not just because you can be socially awkward and pretend you’re quiet because you just really dig the song, but because it ignites a fire, a life, into the situation. Music is not something we simply listen to, but something we experience as individuals, and as a group.
I want to leave you with this: It takes incredible skill to be a musician and it is incredibly impressive what some musicians can do with their instruments, but they mastery of a certain instrument isn’t what makes music beautiful, it’s their mastery over their audience. What’s beautiful about music is that the musicians aren’t really playing their instruments, they are using their instruments to play the audience. We all experience music differently, which is what makes it so incredibly special, but we all experience it together. Don’t be ashamed of what you like, and don’t be embarrassed by what you don’t know. Listen to what speaks to you. Don’t be afraid to dance at a concert. Close your eyes, let the music enter your body, and let it take control. Don’t just listen to the music, live it.
Until next time – happy listening.