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December 1, 2012

On the Go: Music vital to teens' lives

The Daily Star

---- — Music touches everyone’s life. The impact music has on an individual is unique to that person, though. 

It’s no wonder that “music” has its roots from the Greek word “muse.” A muse is a source of inspiration or fodder for creativity. Music seems more central to teens than any other age group. To most people, especially teens, music is as essential to life as food or sleep (coming from teens, this is a pretty big honor). Music has always been and, we hope, will always be a venerated aspect of society and existence.

Let’s take people out of the equation. Music is thriving within the world. There are obvious songs like birds at dawn, crickets or rain but there are more subtle songs too. You have to be open to these songs; they won’t jump up and down shouting, “listen to me!” 

My favorite subtle song is the silence of midnight snow. Like a rest in music this song is enchanting and essential to the world’s soundtrack. 

Other natural songs I like are horse hooves, the wind before a storm, or the clinking of branches in the woods at night. Next time you’re outside, take a moment to close your eyes and just listen to all the sounds around you. What do you hear?

Most babies come into the world singing their own personal (and somewhat pitchy) song. As babies grow, their song changes and evolves. People spend countless breaths teaching toddlers to speak correctly with words. I don’t want to shake your foundation but those babies were not only speaking without your help, they were singing. Now that baby will have to spend the rest of her life learning how to sing again. 

Not that language is a bad thing, I happen to be a fan, but people also need to encourage children to sing, however that child deems correct, because that is how that particular child was designed to sing.   

In her new song “22” Taylor Swift says as young adults and teens, “We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely in the best way. It’s miserable and magical.” Pheww. That’s a lot to deal with. 

Being a teenager comes with a lot of change and a lot of discovery. Music allows teens to say things they can’t, hear things they need to hear, and understand things they couldn’t on their own. I think this is why teens live and breathe music. Teens need a beat more than they need a pulse. Later in life, when people undergo change at the teenage scale, society calls it a crisis. 

Sometimes people complain when teens post lyrics as their status on Facebook. I don’t get that. I find song lyrics as a status fascinating. I may not know you very well but in this instant you’re giving me a six-line-or-so glimpse into your life. If I do know you, you’re probably conveying your feelings in a few lines better than you could in a long conversation. Teens, and everyone else, depend on music to cope with life and reality.

What happens when these young adults and teens grow up? How come some music-loving teens grow up to become the adults that hear “noise” on the radio? Even if a person’s job doesn’t involve music, his soul still requires musical attention if it is to remain healthy. 

One thing adults and teens can both enjoy is the way a certain song transports them to a different time or place. For instance, when I hear Sheryl Crow’s “I Want to Soak Up The Sun,” I automatically think of the pool in Otego.   

Teens use music as a primary means of communication. I believe your taste in music reflects your personality more than most other things. If you want to understand someone or know a person, better listen to her favorite songs or listen to the music he makes. Pay attention to the songs a person likes. These songs will tell you more about a person than that person could ever tell you. People are born making music. Happy people never stop.

Kate Ahearn is a sophomore at Unatego Junior-Senior High School. ‘Teen Talk’ columns can be found at