Why Musicians are Basically Engineers

I’m sorry for being gone for so long! I really didn’t mean to completely abandon this blog as school started, but everything has just gone by so fast, it’s almost impossible to believe the semester is almost over already.

For those of you who don’t know, I moved away at the beginning of September to study music at the University of Western Ontario (more commonly known as ‘Western University’). Throughout this entire semester, I can honestly say that I am so incredibly overwhelmed by the amount of work, me and all my fellow music students have to do.

And I’ve discovered in these 2 weeks, musicians are like engineers. How?

In university (or at least here at Western), we go by a credit system, 0.5 credits being a semester class, 1.0 credits being a full year class, for a total of 5.0 credits a year (approx. 2.5 credits a semester).

Well, for most. Music students are 1 of 2 programs that do not take 5.0 credits a year. We take 6.0 credits, plus ensemble: either choir or band for 4 hours a week (so basically, another credit without actually getting a credit).

Here, we have a grand total of 7.0 credits.

What is the only other program that has 7.0 credits? You guessed it, it’s the engineers!

Why am I telling you this?

I feel like in today’s society, the value of a music education is so drastically underrated. Let’s not mind all the benefits that comes with learning music (improved memory, time management and organization, etc.) but down to humanity’s simplest form, we’ve always had music.

I recently learned today about how music can change lives for people. Some people with Parkinson’s can regain part of their mobility when listening to music, those who can’t remember more than 7 seconds of their lives at a time due to brain damage still remember how to sing.

Music is a powerful thing.

Life as a music major is an interesting world to navigate. Somehow, the whole world has opened up to this beautiful wave of sound I never quite noticed before. With an understanding of music comes an understanding of sound. Of human connection to sound.

People always joke about how horror movies aren’t scary, funny even, without the sound. But have we ever noticed what a TV show or movie would sound like without background music?

Can we imagine a world where we live in silence?

Where we didn’t connect to one another through sound and the universal language of music?

Isn’t it fascinating that without any prior knowledge, we can tell a sad song from a happy song?

I find that now more than ever, art is under persecution. And this is so sad. We will always have science, and math, and law, and medicine… But what will we do if we lose music?

I felt burdened when helping with my university’s fall preview day by the lack of people that wanted to pursue music full time. I’m sad that my craft is under persecution for fear that a life of music is a life “unsuccessful” or “unfulfilling”.

Music was once the joy of the rich. Now we have so much music available to us.

To all you artists out there, never give up.

Music may be a demanding program. It may feel like there’s no point. Why do we continually push ourselves to keep going, if there are always improvements to be made? Why don’t we just crumple the sheet music up, toss it in the trash, and walk away?

Music people, we are engineers for humankind. We engineer emotional structure. We bring people together under a roof where they can feel safe. I remember reading once that doctors fix hearts, but musicians fix souls. A doctor can spend hours in surgery to save someone’s body, their livelihood. Musicians perform, we carry a message, for an hour, maybe two, and we help make that life worth living.

To all you artists out there, never let anyone tell you you’re insignificant.

Your voice, your song, is unique to you, and you only. Every note, every melody, every word adds to this beautiful music library of life.

Let’s never let it burn out.

– Carole


One Word at a Time

I am a writer. I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I weren’t a writer. It amazes me all the time how beautiful language is. Words can be a beautiful medium for art, and tapping into the soul we keep carefully hidden away from anyone else.

Beginning in November of 2015, I started composing “microfictions”. These are little stories, or little tidbits of stories. I challenged myself that any microfiction I wrote must fit the character parameters of twitter (140 characters or less). Therefore, twitter has mostly been my means of sharing microfiction, until now, when I decided to go through my archive and pull them all out.

It’s amazing to me, to see what I’ve written in the past few months. Some of them I clearly remember why I wrote them, some I don’t. Some are based on personal experiences/emotions, some are completely pulled from my imagination. In all, I’ve written about 70 microfictions, though I’ve tapered off in the past few months. Writing this blog post has helped bring back my desire to keep writing them.

Look for inspiration all around you. It’s there, waiting for you to capture the moment on paper forever. I challenge everyone to slow down and write sometimes. It’s extremely therapeutic for the soul. I love it.

You don’t need to write a novel to write. Microfiction is proof enough of that. Hopefully some of mine reach you.

Out of the 70 microfictions I’ve written, I’ve narrowed it down to a few I love the most.

If you’d like, comment your favourites down below, or try writing your own!

Microfictions by Carole P.

1. “Ghosts rattle my windows, hoping to find a home for their lost souls. Or maybe that’s just the wind.” Microfiction (19)
8:55 PM – 12 Nov 2015

2. “Power is in numbers, but they can’t stand against rapid fire. Cold souls prevent the listless from the decrescendo.” Microfiction (19)
11:04 AM – 13 Nov 2015

3. “The echo of guns replaced by candles as we sizzle the gunpowder with tears. But we are a minute too late.” Microfiction (21) #ParisAttacks
5:44 PM – 13 Nov 2015

4. “Heavy hearts lay on the ground of those lost, weeping on the tombstones. Can you hear the people crying?” Microfiction (19) #ParisAttacks
6:03 PM – 13 Nov 2015

5. “Deep cries are never found, lost to shallow laughs. People solely scratch the surface, hoping not to break their nails.” Microfiction (20)
10:13 AM – 18 Nov 2015

6. “Disappointment seeds in my bones, sprouting doubt and intoxicating anxiety. My mind and eyes won’t stop watering weeds.” Microfiction (18)
7:34 PM – 18 Nov 2015

7. “The mirror is a crystal we stare into to find value. We are so narrow sighted, we miss the light bending into rainbows.” Microfiction (23)
10:32 PM – 19 Nov 2015

8. “One day I want to look into your eyes to see an eternity of loneliness recede like an ocean wave.” Microfiction (20)
10:46 PM – 19 Nov 2015

9. “The butterfly’s wings are shattered with rain. But once the butterfly is ready to fly again, she is too afraid to try.” Microfiction (22)
8:12 AM – 21 Nov 2015

10. “One day someone will write love on her arms, the curve of her back, at the base of her spine, but for now, she waits.” Microfiction (25)
10:33 PM – 28 Nov 2015

11. “The fluorescent sun drowns me in golden syrup. I taste the honey on my lips, and it reminds me I’m human.” Microfiction (21)
1:29 PM – November 29 2015

12. “Spin me round until I forget how much it hurts, the world is a blur, and your eyes anchor me to sanity.” Microfiction (22)
12:28 PM – 1 Dec 2015

13. “Hazy eyes are the looking glass into a muddled soul, full of fog and trying to see.” Microfiction (17)
4:59 PM – 4 Dec 2015

14. “He was music; a vibrant crescendo of sound and overwhelming dramatics. And I was so so lost in the melody.” Microfiction (20)
7:18 PM – 24 Dec 2015

15. “Frosted mirrors crystallize my sight, but hot tears burn a hole through fog, when I try and look for you in myself.” Microfiction (22)
8:17 PM – 28 Dec 2015

16. “Mr. Puppet Master I’m tired of this all. Please take away my heart and burn it with my soul.” Microfiction (19)
2:49 PM – 5 Jan 2016

17. “You’re a beautiful disaster that begs to me to keep breathing for you, but I’m suffocating in this dead air.” Microfiction (20)
11:04 AM – 19 Jan 2016

18. “Loving you was a cumulus cloud. But I was blind to the cumulating storm, until the lightning struck me.” Microfiction (19)
5:18 PM – 25 Jan 2016

19. “Wash me away in the sea until I sink into the shipwrecks. Maybe then, I won’t feel anymore.” Microfiction (18)
10:44 PM – 27 Jan 2016

20. “Each exhale expels a cloud of life from my lips. Even in the dead of winter, thank God I’m alive.” Microfiction (20)
2:04 PM – 29 Jan 2016

21. “Because she was a china doll put on a pedestal. Envy knocked her down and she shattered. But no one spoke up for her.” Microfiction (24)
8:40 PM – 2 Feb 2016

22. “Yesterday you bled into my dreams, and I woke up wishing that blood was dripping from my fingers.” Microfiction (18)
10:09 PM – 10 Feb 2016

23. “On a midnight walk on the 14th night, did you stop once to look at the stars? Did you see me in the constellations?” Microfiction (24)
4:42 PM – 16 Feb 2016

24. “This is a fairytale that’s turned into a nightmare. Ink spilled on our pages, trying to rewrite our happy ending.” Microfiction (20)
9:38 PM – 19 Feb 2016

25. “Despite believing I’ve washed you off my hands, I still find your name written in the lines of my palms.” Microfiction (20)
6:58 PM – 1 Apr 2016

26. “The scariest thing was looking out the stormy window to find it was always sunny.” Microfiction (15)
9:24 PM – 4 Apr 2016

27. “Maybe all along I was just the pawn on the chess board.” Microfiction (12)
7:59 PM – 14 Apr 2016

28. “I’m afraid you’ll find your way back in my head. I know you’ll haunt my dreams tonight.” Microfiction (17)
9:59 PM – 14 Apr 2016

29. “Because you are a treasure, buried for safe keeping, you forgot where your splendour is hiding.” Microfiction (16)
10:23 PM – 8 May 2016

30. “When we met, I could finally hear the music. I dread the day the world will one day fall silent.” Microfiction (20)
11:05 AM – 10 May 2016

31. “Maybe if I cry, the nightmares will purge from my eyes, and I’ll have dreams tonight.” Microfiction (16)
12:18 AM – 12 Jun 2016

32. “Hold on tight and don’t let me go. I want to stay in our Polaroid moment forever.” Microfiction (17)
9:19 PM – 24 Jun 2016

Language is such a beautiful, complex art that even it cannot be used to truly express the fullness of storytelling.
– Carole