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The Benefits of Art and Music

Free Write: How The Arts Benefit Society

"The Artist at Work" by Harry Dinnerstein

It’s easy to look up facts about how students with good art and music programs in their schools do better on tests and in school, but it’s hard to quantify how the arts as a whole benefit our society. The temptation is to say that an understanding of the arts make us better people, but perhaps that is a bit too dramatic of a conclusion. If we understand the arts, though, we gain a sensitivity to other people’s creativity and, theoretically, a better chance of understanding that person as a whole.

I’m not saying every student should learn high-level art or music theory, but I do think even an exposure to studying the arts can open up a whole new way of thinking. Art and music are subjects unlike science and math and even unlike history and English, as there are not questions and answers, but rather compositions and creations. They benefit us on an intellectual level because it forces us to think in a way that we were not talk.

Also, it’s significant to consider the time we live in and the generation each of us are from. For me, I know that communicating with other people on a human level is getting more and more difficult. A lot of my friends are even afraid to make a phone call by themselves. By looking at art and music, we look at a human expression of a feeling. Sometimes it’s easier to connect to this feeling than it is to connect to another person explaining how they feel or what they’ve been through, and I think that in turn increases the human connection to one another.

Greg Sandow wrote an article about how the arts make us better people by increasing our capacity for empathy as well as expanding our cognitive growth. Read more about that here. It’s hard to find proof for these in journals or scientific studies, but it’s easy to see how the arts affect the people in the world around you.

I know not everyone will agree and not everyone will feel the same way about art and music, and that’s fine. However, I don’t think it’s fair to remove arts funding from schools because that would take away someone’s opportunity to feel intellectual growth outside a non-traditional academic setting.

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YouTube: Where Has It Taken Us?

YouTube – What economic, artistic, cultural impacts do you imagine YouTube could have on American society and why?

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YouTube affects American society the way most social media networks do, by exemplifying the extremes and furthering the human connection to technology and the Internet. By its very nature, the Internet is cold and inhumane, completely imagined two-dimensional pages that have no warmth. Even our Facebook and Twitter homepages have elements of a clinical and desensitized blue.

YouTube reimagines that. It allows people to easily record themselves and put a human face to the Internet, as well as to express all of their innermost thoughts. Whether they do this via video blogs or via funny or created videos, every post on YouTube says something about its user by showing what that user thinks is worthy of a video. In that way YouTube is more engaging than a lot of the more informational sites on the Internet. Thus, YouTube culturally affects American society by strengthening the deep bond that it has with technology and the age of information. On the flip side of that, though, YouTube also brings out the very worst in people, particularly when it comes to racism and racist comments. I do not fully understand why this is, but I think it may come from American society’s pressure to constantly be politically correct. When the masses are given a platform where they can say whatever they want with no one to hold them accountable, maybe they take it a little too far.

There is a documented “Youtube Effect” which shows how Youtube has made everyone a sort of “citizen journalist.” This is a proven way that Youtube connects people to what’s going on all around the world, and importantly engages the youngest generation to conflicts and issues that could be thousands of miles away.

Economically, YouTube’s effect depends on the market you are considering. It definitely expands a company’s options for marketing, and if the company is capable of low-cost creation of a video, they can then post that video for free. On that same note, though, anyone can post a review of any product, whether it’s just or not, on YouTube, for free. Recently, the appearance of YouTube ads has definitely detracted from the free market origins of YouTube. I remember the days when I was younger and there were no ads on YouTube videos, but when they started showing up, most people didn’t complain even as much as they do when Facebook changes its layout. It was an inevitable inconvenience, but I do wonder how much of my life I waste on those 30 second suckers.

Artistically, YouTube has had less of an impact in my life than it may have in society in general. I don’t really care to search through YouTube for works of cinematic genius; I just like the puppy videos. However, I do think there is some merit to the accessibility of this platform for displaying creativity. Youtube “stars” are born, and suddenly everyone gets to hear what they have to say, no matter what it is.

I honestly don’t think YouTube was as groundbreaking in its effect on society as other social media sites, but it clearly had some significance. Perhaps it is just a cog in the larger scheme of the Internet’s revolution.

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Audio Mixing and the Struggle of A2

Creating/Mixing Audio: If you struggled with A2 or if you felt like you were behind, why did this happen for you? As the instructor, I’ve noticed that many more people seemed behind than on the visual assignment. Is there something about working with audio that makes it more difficult than working with visual materials? What are the unique challenges of working with audio? What are the lessons that we could offer to other noobs? 

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A2 was way more taxing on me academically than A1, and that caused a lot of stress for me. First, I had gotten my A1 assignment back and had not gotten the grade I expected. This affected my A2 assignment because I guess I had it in my head that no matter what I would not be able to anticipate the scale of subjectivity in my grade. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with the system of grading in the class because there are technical elements to be graded, but ultimately the final product most also be judged as “good” or “bad.”

With that being said, I did still have a pretty secure idea of what I wanted to do and I executed it—but barely. One of the biggest problems I noticed was that we were given little instruction and the instruction was the most basic elements. I think Audacity and Garage Band are far too different from Photoshop to set us out with a short lesson and expect us to be comfortable. Even if someone had not been familiar with Photoshop, there is a strong element of fun in working with it. Even if you don’t know exactly what all the tools are, there are definitely a few tools that look like the tools we used in MS Paint as kids, and ultimately manipulating images, if tedious, has a pleasing outcome.

Audacity is not like that. I felt very limited to the two tools I knew how to use and everything else was foreign to me. Also, the end product is not something I was excited about (no one wants to hear two minutes of their voice). Beyond that, I didn’t feel like I was mixing audio at all, I was just chopping different pieces around and throwing them back together with little finesse. I know there’s a whole world of tools and details to mixing audio, so it almost seemed crass and disrespectful the way we had create a piece so quickly and with so little knowledge. It just seemed like this project was set out on a much smaller timeframe than the last one, and that frustrated me because it happened to fall on a terrible week midterm-wise (isn’t it always that way?!).

Another unique challenge of working with audio is the presentation. With a visual piece, you present it and then someone can look at it for a brief or extended period of time, but a audio piece is, theoretically, meant to be presented once, for that length of time, and understood with in those constraints. Getting an entire rhetorical concept seemed like such a huge feat to me with those limitations, and that caused much anxiety for me.

I don’t know what lessons I have to offer, but I think it would be really beneficial to spend a lot more time in the beginning going over what Audacity can do. Perhaps giving all of the students a sample piece of audio and then together step-by-step doing some manipulation to it would make them feel more secure in the world of audio mixing. Needless to say, I don’t think I’ll be spending a lot of time with Audacity after this class.