Why is music important?

I love Michael Parkinson’s description of why sport is important. Courtesy of Second Captains.

Sport “is not war, or death, or famine – it’s not that at all. It’s the opposite of that. It’s to persuade us of a life outside of that… that’s why sport’s important.”

I spoke to a lady this morning who is a colleague on a course I’m taking at the minute. She is a palliative care social worker in a hospice in Chicago, and cares passionately about the well-being of her patients. She sees it as her role to provide emotional support to families in living with the impact of advanced illness through to the terminal phase. And to make the patients themselves feel human while they are under her care.

In ways it can be seen as far more important work than playing the piano. She is dealing with suffering, illness and death on a daily basis, but when I put this point to her, she argued against me, and told me that the role that music plays in many of her patients last hours and days is huge.

It’s a bit like Michael Parkinson said above. There are far more serious things in life than either sport or music. That unfortunately will always be the case.

But we need athletes, games, musicians and gigs just as much as we need doctors, nurses and social workers. To lift the gloom where it has descended, to transport us to places that everyday life cannot take us, and to remind us of the excitement and beauty in life when for whatever reason it’s hard to see.

Play on.