Every day students walk through the halls with their headphones plugged into their ears. Many listen to their music whenever they can during lunch, PASS, independent work time and any other possible break. It’s a growing phenomenon that seems to affect teenagers in particular. In a different light, however, this music is simply a way in which students are showing a piece of their personality without even trying.
High school is the time when most people work to find who they are and who they want to be.
A large contributor to this process of mental growth is music.
A study conducted by the the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation (NAMM) confirms this.
As part of the study, 1,155 teens submitted essays to Teen People magazine discussing why music is important to them.
There were a common thread found in these essays: Music helps teens feel as though they belong and can also be a form of catharsis, serving as a coping mechanism for some. The NAMM study also found that people tend to associate music with studying, hand-eye coordination and concentration.
There are many adult views and statistics that try to explain why teenagers love music. These can be reliable, but members of the younger generations have their own reasons as to why music matters.
For instance, junior Maddy Caiola said that music has helped her make it through hard times.
“These past couple months have been really hard; I lost my friend, she died, and I went through a really bad heartbreak and I just had a lot of stuff going on in my life and I really felt that nothing was gonna get better,” Caiola said. “I knew that when I [turned] to my music and I heard it… I knew that when I turned it on, my body just immediately calmed down.”
Caiola, a singer and pianist, is constantly listening to music. Caiola said music is such a big part of her life and that she can’t let go of it. No matter what kind of day Caiola is having, music improves it.
Junior and member of Dynamics jazz choir, Joshua Leben, has a similar emotional connection to music.
Leben said that to him, music is an escape. Music helps him calm down and cope with stress because he can identify with the musicians he listens to by the stories and emotions that he shares with them. He said that music also acts like a safe place and allows you to relax or “amp yourself up” depending on the mood at hand and the song.
“It’s really helped me grow into a person that I am today,” Leben said, “it really helped me work out some issues that I’ve had, just really hearing people’s stories and really relating to them and how I can work about my own situations that I’m going through in my life. It’s definitely helped me become the person I am, I’m going to be.”
Junior Kaylee McGovern, who plays alto saxophone and flute in Jazz 1, also talked about how music helps her manage her emotions.
“I don’t really have another creative outlet besides [music],” McGovern said. “It’s a way to connect, not only with the rest of the musical world, but also just the music itself in isolation,”
McGovern goes on to explain how music has helped her deal with failure. At a recent flute competition, McGovern said she made mistakes on things that she can easily play on any other given day.
“I was waiting for the disappointment to hit, for the point where I would just be so crushed because I didn’t advance [in the competition], but it never came. I was proud of all the work that I put into it [and] that’s something that can transfer to the rest of my life. That [new ability to deal with failure] was really hard for me but it’s something I’ve had to learn,” McGovern said.
According to a study done at the University of Cambridge, music also serves as a way to look into a person’s mind. People seemed to use other’s music taste as a moderately reliable prediction of others’ personality traits.
The University of Oregon Department of Psychology outlines the “big five,” five broad categories that describe various personality traits. They are listed as openness to experience, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and emotional stability.
In the study, done over the course of six weeks, strangers were paired together and told to get to know each other based on the “big five.” It was found that about 58 percent of the pairs talked about music as somewhat of an icebreaker as compared to 37 percent of other categories such as books, movies, TV and sports combined.
The Cambridge study results showed the basics of what a preferred genre of music says about a person and stated that some music preferences, like country, can indicate a person is emotionally stable, while others, like jazz, indicate a person may be very intellectual.
Heriot-Watt University conducted a similar study on ways that people’s musical tastes connects to their personality.
The study found that pop and blues fans tend to have a high self-esteem and are hardworking, outgoing and gentle. In addition, blues fans have tendencies for creativeness and being at ease, according to the study.
Students said that music can reach out to them in ways that their peers can’t. Such as McGovern who said that when asking her friends for counsel, she tends to want to hear specific things from them and when you don’t it feels like a letdown.
“With music, you seek out a particular song, and you can hear exactly what it says; you don’t have to sit there and explain to them what’s going on in your life,” McGovern said.
In other ways, Caiola said that music acts as an alternative for her. On the bad days, Caiola plays piano, she feels although she can let her emotions flow out.
“I don’t have to just bottle it up and keep it in,” Caiola said. “I can just let my emotions out in my music instead of just not talking about it and resorting to keeping it all bottled up inside,”
Similar to Caiola, Leben said that sometimes it’s better to calm yourself down without anybody else trying to help. Music helps Leben cope with situations that are occurring in his life and he likes to play music to help with that.
It isn’t hard to see that the students at MTHS have a general love for music and that this love is shown in many different forms and genres alike.
“I used to be a really really angry person and I used to get so mad at everything,” Caiola said.
“It’s almost like music has taught me how to control myself and control my emotions. I feel like I’m so much better and improved from what I was. Music has changed my life, and I’m really grateful for that.”