From Bach to Bieber

Music is everywhere in our lives. With just a couple of taps of the thumb, you can listen to virtually anything from J.S. Bach to Justin Bieber.

Not too long ago, if you wanted to listen to music you either had to listen in person to someone making it or to make it yourself. When my grandparents were young, music making was an essential part of everyday life, and every family that could afford it had a piano, because music had to be made by actual people in the moment. Before LP's, cassette tapes, 8 tracks, CD's, mp3's, and streaming music services came along, if you wanted to hear music, you or someone near you had to make it.

The downside of technology. The advancement of technology has allowed us to hear anything anywhere anytime. Bach on the beach or Sinatra on the sidewalk? No problem. That's been wonderful, but it also has a downside. We may be taking music for granted. We may have lost sight of the value of music in our lives because it's so easy to access. Music may be fading into the background.

Star Wars without John Williams. If you ever have doubted the value of music, just imagine your favorite movie or video game minus the musical score. Better yet, try turning off the audio on a battle scene in "Star Wars" and you will see what I mean. And that doesn't just go for battle scenes. Try watching your favorite tear jerker without music. Without music, the life is drained out. This is true of virtually every movie every made. Even silent films had live orchestras to pump up the energy and cue viewers' emotions.

In the second decade of the 21st century, we as a society are at serious risk of taking music for granted. By extension, we may also be at risk of taking music education for granted. Music education is the process that underlies all music. It takes many years of patient practice to achieve a high level of mastery in music performance. Behind the music that energizes your favorite movie or video game, there were scores of musicians writing and performing. The greatest musicians you've never heard of–Malcolm McNab or Sheridon Stokes to name just two of many–perform and record music for countless movies, television shows, and video games. These unsung heroes make our lives better. And their lives' work all began one day long ago in a band class somewhere.