HONESTLY, AT the beginning of the activity I was at a bit of a loss for what could be made with the different materials. The attempt above was one of several. Not too bad, if I do say so myself, but yet really not too much when compared to what all the other kids did. There were varying types of "towers," kids making miniature playgrounds, moats around their favorite stuffed animals. What particularly struck me is how creative the kids were with harder to use materials. There were paper clips included in the materials I was given and I was pretty clueless as to how we were expected to use them in combination with everything else we had. The kids were naturals. My attention wasn't just drawn to the kids' ingenuity either, I was struck by the ingenuity of the various different races that were represented as well. Everyone had some good ideas at different ways to use the materials.
CLICK HERE for the whole talk. He talked about the need for humility and its parallels with gender and economic circumstances. Every race has an important contribution in society. Not only that, but there are unique contributions that society will not have, until it is given through specific races and nationalities.
NOW WHAT does this have to do with music? As a piano teacher one of the hardest things to teach a kid is rhythm and pacing. Some students rush the eighth notes. Others keep them steady but get bored with half and whole notes and like to skip or rush through the last few beats. It can get rather frustrating sometimes, especially in collaboration projects. In contrast, I've been teaching a student that's part Tahitian. Rhythmic music is everywhere in those cultures. (Jazz is purportedly from African roots). She's always right on the dot on all her rhythms and there is very little that phases her.
THIS GOT me thinking. Actual music participation is a very important part of just about every culture. I'm not talking about just putting on a set of earphones and jamming out. I'm talking about actually singing, playing instruments, and being an active part of actual music making. In African cultures, music making is a community event. Everyone has a part to play.
YOU'RE PROBABLY thinking, "so what?" Let me tell you. Studies have found that people who participate in music making actually increase their emotional bond with each other. (I'll include a reference to the study below). It also increases our emotional intelligence. Literally, those who sing together, stay together. These benefits don't come from only listening to music, we have to participate in music to get these benefits. There is a need for more music making in the United States, and across the Caucasian cultures. More, I think interracial music groups and activities are needed. Some of those already exist, including Women of the World, (find them on Facebook here). How does this apply to you? I'd encourage you to get musically involved. There is something out there for everyone. At the very least, learn how to sing a melody and keep a beat. The younger the better, but it's never too late. I have no doubt that as we make music together, we will grow together across cultures and races. Our society and economy will be better than it ever has before.
Here's the study I mentioned:
Ko, E., Seidl, A., Cristia, A., & Reimchen, M., (2016). Entrainment of prosody in the interaction of mothers with their young children. Journal of Child Language 43(2), 284-309. doi:10.1017/S0305000915000203
AS I WAS pursuing my degree in music at BYU-Idaho I became a bit of a nerd for music theory. From the first semester we were tasked with building chord progressions and learning counterpoint. Eventually, we were tasked with making a hymn setting, though not particularly for a specific lyrics. The moment I made these connections I began to get a craving for analyzing the hymns in the hymnbook and figuring out how they made all those "cool" moments work in all my favorites.
I was intrigued by his story, being the oldest person in the Richins line to become a member of the LDS church. (Technically, Charles Richins was the first). This all happened in the 1800's, and they eventually chose to emigrate to Utah, the home of the LDS church at the time. Little is said about their experience going through with this journey, but among what we have is this text that is purportedly written by William Richins.
The Last Farewell
My friends the time is growing nigh
When I to you must say goodbye
Twill be my last farewell.
I soon shall join a noble band
And journey from my native land
Far in the West to dwell.
Do you not know the time has come
For scattered saints to gather home?
My God I must obey;
Then gladly will I say adieu
To all my friends and country too
I have no wish to stay.
How gladly I will hasten there,
Those blessings how I long to share
With the saints I long to dwell;
But when I am in Deseret
My absent friends I'll not forget
Though now I say farewell.
The words are stirring. William was said to have loved his homeland is Gloucestershire. He had thought about leaving for the United States before joining the church, but chose not to due to the community of friends he had in England. I've found myself pondering on his sacrifice in traveling to the unknown United States.
Myself, I have moved across the United States several times. Between traveling from where I grew up, my mission, and two different colleges, I've come to know a number of people that is still growing steadily. There have been many times, I will admit, that I've been brought to tears at the prospect of leaving one area to go to another, (especially on my mission), not knowing when I would ever come across certain people again. Luckily for me, there's social media, which I can use to stay in touch with many of the people I've grown to love. William Richins was not so fortunate. Even a physical letter must have taken months to travel across the ocean. His goodbye was likely for good, not expecting to ever see or even contact any of them ever again. This goodbye was final. It would be the "last farewell" he would ever give to his friends in England.
We face our own challenges today, and we can often find strength in the words and stories of our ancestors. I have found much strength and understanding in reading and singing these words. I hope those who choose to learn this song for themselves will find the same thing.
I've provided a free copy of the music and a recording below. Feel free to print, copy and share for personal and church use.
MY ENTIRE LIFE I've had a bit of a ravenous craving to discover how the power of music works. One day, after a particularly successful day practicing piano while pursuing my music degree, I lay in bed unable to sleep as I felt so energized from the music I'd been practicing. I'm a sucker for deep thought, and I found myself thinking on how it came to be that I felt so energized. Words began to form in my mind, and I felt particularly prompted to get up and write the words down. I eventually managed to make myself crawl out of bed to put them on paper, (this was probably well after midnight). The next day I did my best to discern what it was I had written in the dark, and continued to edit the words until I came up with this poem...
It fills the air
It fills the soul
And awakens it
It energizes an element so small
No human eye or ear can conceive it.
Is something that is felt
The ear is only a passageway.
© 2015 Mark Richins Music
This is extremely applicable to music, and I won't bother with the over taught sermon. The same scripture continued to give an insight that floored me. "that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good."
NOW WHEN I think of the word "entice" I tend to give it a negative connotation. The devil entices. I personally don't want to be anywhere near like him. But yet it says in this scripture that good things entice us too. This is partly what inspired me to start this whole venture in Mark Richins Music. There is so much music out there enticing us for bad, but yet music has such a huge power to entice us to do good.
THIS BLOG and everything else on this website seeks to spread the use of Pure music. Pure music in that it brings us closer to Christ, but pure music in that it it masters the elements of musical artistry so much that it energizes and motivates us to do good as well. I encourage everyone to continue reading the other posts that will be included in this blog to make music a part of your daily discipleship, and therefore that much closer to Christ. I guarantee that it will.
P.S. Feel free to comment and vent on the need for #PureMusic. I'd love to hear from you!
I'm a sacred music enthusiast. I'm one of those people that attends church for the music just as much as the sermon, one of those people that give an evil glare at the people who leave for the congregational hymns, (Ok no, not really).