Music training improves concentration. And with better concentration, we could not only find out new answers to old questions, but also new questions that await new answers. In my violin class I have to focus very hard. If I don’t concentrate, I can lose the whole flow. Each time I practice I find a new problem to solve. When one learns music, concentration becomes a normal part of your life. Just think what would happen if all of us had the opportunitiy to focus the way that I have. If we all did this, we could start the journey that awaits us, of remaking earth by concentrating to help solve tough problems that we never even thought about.
We could understand the true beauty of other countries and avoid wasted wars. We would appreciate the melodies of Iraq, the elegant melodic pentatonic scales of China, the rich spiritual heritage of India, and the great rhythms of Africa. When I went to China about two years ago, I heard a certain five-note scale. I realized we South Indians call that scale “Mohana” raga. We might be friends or enemies with certain countries, but underneath we are all the same, like the Chinese scale and “Mohana” raga.
Best of all, music education brings me inner peace and inspiration. I sing South Indian Karnatik music, and the lyrics praise God. The meanings are usually something like, “Oh lord, you are the embodiment of good” or “you are the noblest of all.” When I sing this music with understanding, it adds to my pleasure and gives me ideas to improve myself. Although the lyrics were written many centuries ago they can still help us today. People need this. When I sing a song with feeling, I reap much happiness and excitement. I wish that everyone could have this experience. If they did, then people would be happier, and it would give them the power to do what needed to be done.
As an Asian-American living in the Bay Area, I have had the privilege to learn not only the music of this land but also my ancestors’ land. From this experience, I feel that music from here and all over the world can help us in making the world a better place.
Sahana Narayanan is a sixth grader at the Living Wisdom School in Palo Alto, Calif. Her essay won 1st place in the 2009 Growing Up Asian in America essay competition (grades K-5). The contest theme was “Change.”