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Bob Bader Loved sounds coming from my car's pipes, but chief did not

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Bob Bader

Posted: Thursday, March 24, 2011 12:00 am

One of the blessings I fell heir to from my mother's side of the family is a love of music. You can't actually call everything one hears over the radio and TV music, per se. Much of it sounds like a car wreck.

Since I don't drive ambulances for a living, the sound of a car wreck is a bit jarring to my sensibilities, especially if I am hearing it being played in some kid's car a half a block away and I am wondering what this strange vibration I am feeling in my chest means. Is it Dr. Dre trying to bust out the rear speakers in that tone-deaf/half-deaf kid's car, or am I really suffering cardiac arrest?

I know — in the matter of sounds, beauty is in the ear of the beholder. As a kid, I don't remember a prettier sound than a pair of perfectly tuned Smitty mufflers on a dynatuned V8 engine on a drop-dead beautiful '34 Ford hot rod.

When I opened a practice in Rio Vista, I had a '55 Ford Ranch Wagon, incongruously fitted with such pipes. I was stopped by the police chief. He said, "Dr. Bader, please get those pipes fixed. Whenever I stop a kid for loud pipes, he always sez, 'How come Dr. Bader can have pipes on his car and we can't?'"

I took the easy way out. I sold the car to the grown-up who lived next door to the police chief.

Getting back to the matter at hand: I got an email from a lady who teaches real music and is an advocate of such and in that process is trying to get real music back into the schools by appealing to the people who think they know what they are doing (politicians). She is having spotty success, and I wish her the very best. Her message is that there is an egregious difference between music's vital cultural role and the stuff that is pulling away the edges of tympanic membranes rendering deafness on all those too dense to stop their eventual dumbness, which is a certain eventuality.

It isn't that people like Snoop Dogg are all that stupid. (You should be stupid enough to take in a few million bucks a year.) It's just that the folks who are smart enough to take advantage of kids who have no real taste in music are also avaricious enough to want to raise tons of money to benefit children: their own.

I am still at a loss to explain the reason kids' inability to hear the nuances of their particular brand of music when the volume level exceeds that of a fully loaded Air Force jet on takeoff using the street in front of your house as a taxi strip.

Music is international in scope, and every society has a genre of sorts that can be pleasing even to the untrained ear. But when it is so loud as to cause pain and permanent cochlear damage, that ain't good.

I happen to be a fan of the three "B"s: Bach, Brahms and Beethoven. I like Willy, Waylon and the boys, too; they tell better stories in their songs. But their stuff probably won't still entertain 300 years from now as the squareheads von Deutschland und Austria will.

I read a study that showed soothing, classical music played in a dairy barn resulted in the cows giving markedly more milk than listening to essentially atonal rock and roll.

Music can elicit strong, but subliminal responses. I'll bet that's why soothing music is played in elevators.

It is an established fact that music actually enhances a kid's ability to think, and that the kids who play in the band are by-and-large quite a few ticks smarter than their classmates. (Sometimes that don't mean nothin'.)

Barbara Murch is the lady mentioned above. She has some points worth reading:

Amid a flailing U.S. education system that's rapidly falling behind other countries, cutting music education initiatives will actually further damage our global academic standing.

With school district performance declining and budget cuts increasing, cutting musical arts programs is self-defeating since music is a key, highly effective way to improve district performance.

Music is among the only things a child can do to work all parts of the brain, as it causes neuron synapses to fire between all parts. The only other functions that use both hemispheres are higher-level mathematics and logic processing, such as chess. All other tasks rely on the dominant use of either the left or right brain.

Learning music at an early age is "mental exercise" that makes kids more creative, vibrant and intelligent in multiple respects.

The 10 percent rule: Take a look at any school band or orchestra or top-ranking choir and you will find that a huge percentage of the members are in the top 10 percent of their class and college bound.

Learning music at an early age breeds successful leaders of the next generation. Bill Clinton, Mahatma Gandhi, Condeleeza Rice, Neil Armstrong, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein are among those influencers who play(ed) a musical instrument.

Sometimes that connection works; sometimes it doesn't. My mom was a musician and an unschooled genius. My dad was a math and science whiz. He had a tin ear and couldn't carry a tune in a bucket.

Bob Bader is a chiropractor and loves to write. You can write him at

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