Music matters, to our brains and beyond
Following up on the last two blogs- Music on the Brain, and Music in the Face of Violence, I’ve been pondering why music and creativity are important. At Light the Music, we believe that playing music develops a more creative and agile brain, which opens the mind to new learning and ideas. We also know that the universal language of music “can pierce the heart directly,” so it is a powerful transformative force that connects human beings. Creativity and connection are essential to our future on this planet, and we care deeply about this, in part because our app ORO gives almost anyone this kind of ‘flow’ experience.
It’s reaffirming to see this music and creativity in action. We had an exhilarating visit to The Steward School last week, as we spent an entire day learning, demo-ing ORO, and sharing our experiences with students and faculty. Steward’s inspiring attitude towards tech, innovation, and entrepreneurship is contagious–everywhere we went we were warmly welcomed by creative teachers and engaged students. And then there was the assembly! After we demo-ed ORO, we asked for a show of hands–who would download our app?–and instead received rousing cheers! Mission accomplished.
With a future educational version of our visual music technology, we aim to recreate the kind of student engagement we saw last week in many different subjects. We broke open glow sticks to experiment with transmitted light, and then discussed about pixels and image blend modes. We played broomball and related that to effective team communication and planning in software development. The Innovation class was my favorite–we created heartbreak maps, where we drew our personal passions, and what’s in their way, and then we used the solutions to these problems to point to what each person should be working on. It is profound to see high school students charting a course towards a happy and fulfilling future. And in fact, the idea for ORO was born from an exercise just like this.
Our last class featured middle school students who had a taste of ORO from the assembly and wanted to know more. Clearly, these kids were deeply interested, and thus fearless learners. First we had a Q-and-A session which revealed their imaginative ideas for what’s possible with ORO. Next, we created a classroom jam, with each student adding small bits, which resulted in a visual music piece that everyone was proud of. Then we turned off the sound and created music based solely on the visuals. Still looking for more discovery, we explored what a musical conversation might sound like using visual music instruments in the app. My favorite student comment of the day was a heartfelt “mind blown!”
We saw kids exploring creativity in the inherently boundless space that music occupies, and we saw them open to a new world of interactivity - with visual music, and with each other. We watched, inspired, as they embraced this discovery, asking questions and opening new doors as they appeared. The collective power of their engagement and curiosity gave me hope for a world faced with sobering problems. I believe there are answers outside of the boxes, and I suspect I know who is going to find them. Thus, what’s at stake with our visual music app is much more than entertainment; it is one representation of the way creativity can “light matches against the darkness,” for students who deserve a future, and for the rest of us who want so much to see them create it.