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What makes World Music Day 2022 special

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World Music Day is the perfect occasion to pay ode to an art form that unites people

World Music Day is the perfect occasion to pay ode to an art form that unites people

What has music meant to us these past two years? With many months spent inside our homes as the pandemic raged in the world outside, most of us turned to music a lot more than ever before. Many of us were confused and struck with fear and the virus. In this situation, music became the sole companion. Music concerts shifted online, as did we. In many countries around the world (notably in South America and Western Europe) — citizens took to performing on their terraces and balconies, often joined by raucous and often joyous neighbours. Separated by walls and protocols, music was the only means to communicate and celebrate the very act of living.

With the Summer Solstice nearing, we are gearing up to celebrate World Music Day on June 21. After having been cooped up for the past two years, almost every musician — professional and amateur — is looking to take their music to the streets. And in many countries this is literally the case.

Brazil and the Philippines, for instance, open up public parks, recreation areas, and common walkways to performing musicians. In France, the originator of the concept (indeed, France officially began the tradition in 1982), one can apply to the Government-backed Fete De La Musique portal, order posters, choose the locations for your performance, and take your art to the masses, whether amateur or professional. The longest day of the year is celebrated with music by the hour, every hour.

Travelling in England some years ago, I was delighted to find pianos in public places including airport concourses. ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’, a public installation project initiated by artiste Luke Jerram has seen over 20 million people play these public pianos, in over 70 cities across the globe. The effect that it sought to create — of providing instant therapy and a sense of community worked superbly. On June 21, many of these will be in constant use in many cities around the world.

Support to artists

More recently, I was made aware of the ‘yak songs’ of Bhutan (thanks to Lunana, a seminal and award-nominated film ). It is heartening to know that the world’s happiest country does its own homage to World Music Day every year as well, supporting both its professional and traditional performing artists. All of these examples underscore the fundamental purpose of music. As the most easily accessible art form, the sense of community that music can instantly bring is the need of the hour. The pandemic has only accentuated this need further.

Many parents writing in to ask me how their children should observe World Music Day were given these standard instructions. But I don’t see why these should not apply to adults.

First, make it a habit to listen to one new piece of music every day for the next week. Be bold and experiment with new genres and artistes. The process of discovery is amazing. Better still, it will make sense to journal your observations.

Second, sing or play an instrument that day. Even if badly, use the occasion to bring the family and friends together. Music heals as nothing else can. Finally, support local artists and bands. Find a local music event and attend it. Live music is still the most vibrant and potent transformative experience. Cultivating the habit of attending live concerts is something that one develops early.

World Music Day serves to remind us that in a world that is spinning in ways that are too complex to keep track of, music continues to help people stay grounded.

The writer is a well-known musician, educator, and an Associate Professor at Krea University.

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