You’re never too old to enjoy music, theatre, literature, or art, whether you’re making it yourself or admiring someone else’s. And that’s not just for those in a creative profession, either. Or for people with small kids. In fact, if you think up a way for your financial planning in your business to cut costs in half the usual time, or grow a new market you’re being creative. If you make your ancient car spring to life on a frosty morning, you’re being creative. If you hum aimlessly in the shower, or enjoy a spot of gardening, or do the crossword – yep, you’re being creative then too.
You could almost say it’s the Arts that make us human. Music, drama, poetry, literature, dance, sculpture, drawing, painting, performance… these may be obvious categories of creativity. Yet our society is full of other expressions which make our environment what it is: product design, graphic design, landscaping, architecture – to name but a few. Sound, colour, texture, size and scale, choice of materials, aspect, and seasonality – choices are made about all of these in every aspect of how we design, construct and adapt our living spaces, the tools we use, in fact, everything around us.
Focusing on artistic endeavour highlights certain skills and sensitivities which make us better performers at other things. It’s arguable that children who regularly perform music are better at maths. Personally I’d argue that music is in fact a branch of mathematics – if only we could have maths teachers who had musical sensitivity for the subject, I’m sure more pupils would be enthusiastic. And no doubt, somewhere, we do have such teachers.
Drama and performance encourages self-confidence. So does singing. One of my favourite performers, the late Jim Couza, said “Singing together makes us strong.” I believe that. The Arts enable us to communicate feelings and insights which are really important to us. Good design encourages use and builds receptiveness in an intended audience. That’s as true for a well constructed annual report as it is for well-played Shakespeare.
“If music be the food of love, play on,” said Shakespeare. And e’en so it is the food of love, rhythm, dance, emotion – besides being a branch of mathematics, and an avenue to the core of the human soul. Yes – music is all these things. And, some people go as far as to say, music is everything.
There are three people required for a musical performance: a composer, a musician and an audience. Teenagers jamming on the guitar in their bedroom have the capacity to be all three. The experience is multiplied of course, with more participation in any one area. The sublime joy of music partly stems from the fact that its beauty and meaning cannot be explained.
Its capacity to change us, in mood, philosophy, lifestyle even – guide us through every part of life, to tug our heartstrings, be our therapist, or inspire us; is quite fascinating.
People use it to calm down; get pumped up; to validate feelings of loss and betrayal. We love to it; fight to it, wake up and fall asleep to it. It pervades TV, sport, teaching, and advertising to name a few. Choosing a song for a first wedding dance or final send-off can often leave people in states of complete jellification. Curious? I like to think, amazing.
To me the Arts are not about how you choose to spend your leisure time, they are crucial to what creates quality of life in everything we do. I’m happy to share my recommendations with you here.