– By Michal Elizabeth Smith –
American recording artist and producer Butch Walker wrote, “Your youth is the most important thing you will ever have. It’s when you will connect to music like a primal urge, and the memories attached to the songs will never leave you…Keep every note, mix tape, concert ticket stub, and memory you have of music from your youth. It’ll be the one thing that might keep you young, even if you aren’t anymore.”
Recently I’ve engaged in several troubling conversations, each tackling the same issue – the importance of music in the lives of young people. A considerable amount of teens and young adults admit that music wasn’t a prominent part of their childhood or years of adolescence. Music is an indispensable part of life; some of my most cherished memories revolve around it.
My kindergarten class sang “I Am A Promise” during our graduation ceremony, and I’ve never forgotten the lyrics. I often catch myself singing, “I am a promise. I am a possibility. I am a promise with a capital P. I am a great big bundle of potentiality.” My family would listen to early Lyle Lovett and Herb Alpert as we drove home from school, and my sister and I would jam out to Kid Rock’s “Cowboy” with my dad as we cruised around town on weekends. These are just a few of my adolescent memories with music but each one played a crucial role in the development my life. My parents sparked a love for music within me that inspired me to pursue learning how to play drums, banjo, and guitar. I struggled for many years trying to grasp chords, riffs and notes, but after learning how to play drums, I was able to comprehend other instruments. Studies show that a child’s overall development heightens with continual exposure to music. The ability to understand math concepts and foreign languages are just a few of the benefits.
I will never be able to connect to an artist quite like I did with Avril Lavigne. Our youth is brimming with a certain angst and affliction that we don’t experience when we’re older. We bear every feeling during our short years of adolescence – fear, awkwardness, embarrassment, outcast-ed, happy, sad, anger, and the like. If you were like me, you turned to music to drown out those uncomfortable years.
It’s vital to expose children and adolescents to music because they need an outlet to find connections. Music ignites a special type of creativity and soothes a pain that other channels simply can’t. It’s important that our youth have a way to release their feelings. Our years of youth are impressionable; the music we listen to will never be forgotten.