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Music: The World Within Itself

by Alejandro Menendez

Photo by Marius Masalar on Unsplash

“Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand, with an equal opportunity for all to sing, dance, and clap their hands,” the great Stevie Wonder sings on his hit track Sir Duke.

As many know, Stevie Wonder was a famous R&B singer whose silky-smooth rhythms and melodic vocals captured the 70’s and 80’s. What’s more, Stevie Wonder accomplished all of this despite being totally blind and growing up in severe poverty on the streets of Michigan. When constantly faced with the question of how he was able to achieve so much while being faced with such challenges, Stevie simply replied, “I never thought of myself as disabled, and I still don't.”  

Stevie’s ability to capture so many in the world of music without ever being able to use his eyes to look at the world around him speaks to not only his ability as a musician, but also to the power of music that takes over all worldly disadvantages that we may see.

Music is not only something that we enjoy in our day-to-day lives, rather, it is life and truly a world within itself that allows an “equal opportunity” for all to create, share, and experience it, no matter the person. Music’s ability to change lives truly demonstrates its power as seen in the case of Stevie Wonder and so many more who have come to fall in love with the world of music.

In many prisons across the United States, the system of allowing prisoners to have a laptop to listen to their favorite tunes has been implemented. This life-changing initiative was inspired by Colorado beginning in 2016 and has now grown to all prisons in California as well as roughly one million users nationwide. 

"It's being able to have that ability to reach out and hear something different that will catapult you out of whatever depths of hell you may be in that moment, figuratively speaking," says Jeffery Shockley to NPR, who is serving out a life sentence in Pennsylvania for murder. 

It’s evident that these prisoners who have so much to regret and look back on need something to distract them from their everyday lives. Music is something that doesn’t require you to be of a certain status or occupation, it is a life-changing world in which these prisoners can escape from their grievances and experience love. 

I don't want to be who I was," said Shockley. "So, I'm going to be who I can be or should have been." 

Music’s impact on even the most forgotten and lost individuals in society shows just how different and incredible it is. And not all prisoners are listening to just rap or heavy metal. Some in fact have found a connection with poppy artists such as Taylor Swift. This newly found hope that prisoners can experience through music may not seem like much to us, who have access to all the music in the world at our fingertips. 

However, even the smallest dose of music makes such an impact on these convicts' lives, that it is worth noting. Not only does music change the lives of those who listen to it, but also of those who play it. 

“It was all I did,” says band teacher and director at Christopher Columbus High School Mr. Cooper. “I play outside of Columbus too; I mean I’m even playing tonight out on the beach.” 

Cooper’s love and dedication to music have led him to assume the role of head band director and the school, but it’s not the title or the awards that he is focused on in his career. Instead, he simply enjoys being able to interact with his passion daily, as well as teach it to kids. 

When asked why he chose to pursue music in his career, Cooper said “It’s been the constant in my life. I feel like my passion for music has just kept growing, and I’m always trying to be better every day.” 

Being in the band at school has also had a great impact on students who can pick up their favorite instrument, whether it be a guitar or a saxophone, every day. 

When asked what music has done in his life, sophomore guitar player Kai Salcedo said “Music and guitar has always been there for me, it has helped me to grow as a person. Playing guitar daily helps me get in the right state of mind and always gives me a sense of peace when things aren’t going my way.” 

This peace that Kai and so many other students draw from being able to play music is truly fascinating. For many high schoolers, it seems that music is something that can help them to escape their struggles like grades, home life or even the stress that comes with sports. 

Music truly is a world within itself that all can understand and enjoy. The opportunities it provides, and the joy that it brings will forever be appreciated by all who engage in the magic of music.

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