Issue 24: Music & Contemporary Culture
"Although people were quite unfamiliar with the sound and rhythm of other cultures,
music itself united everyone as the universal language."
Once More, the Power of Music
Katie Park, St. Mark's School
Jan 31, 2019
In a diverse community like St. Mark’s, students come from various backgrounds and bring with them different cultures. In order to celebrate and reciprocate cultural differences, St. Mark’s holds an annual event called the Community and Equity Day (C&E Day).
This year during the C&E Day, students participated in various student-led workshops in the morning and joined in the Umoja Performance in the afternoon. As the word “umoja” means “unity” in Swahili, the Umoja Performance was meant for the school to share and acknowledge different cultures, ultimately uniting as a community. For this purpose, students from various affinity groups put together a performance that represented their unique cultures.
The event held multiple performances ranging from a K-pop style dance incorporated into Ariana Grande’s Thank You, Next to a video showing the evolution of hip-hop dances. Although people were quite unfamiliar with the sound and rhythm of other cultures, music itself united everyone as the universal language (as cliche as it may sound). When I was watching a band sing a popular Chinese song, I didn’t understand what they were saying at all. Nevertheless, I thought the performance was phenomenal and enjoyed every bit of the song as much as everyone else did--we were all drawn by the high energy of the performance. Incorporating music enriched the quality of the C&E Day and helped students naturally understand different cultures in a unique, meaningful way.
Music definitely serves as a medium to connect people from different backgrounds and experiences. However, it also helps us students relax after a long and tiring day at school. Boarding schools have rigorous academic curriculums. We study hard throughout the day and engage in activities such as sports and clubs in the afternoon. Due to such tight schedules and the level of stress that comes with it, it is important for us to find a way to relieve stress and rejuvenate ourselves. Listening to music is one way, and this is one of mine as well. Since my roommate and I share similar taste in music, we often pump up the volume of our speakers. Other times, we wear our own headphones and listen to our personal favorites, magically ascending our moods to a place where we are most content. In all, music plays a huge role in both the personal and community levels.