Failing pre-calculus in my freshman year of college was devastating. I had no one to blame but myself, or rather my poor study habits.
When I retook the class the following quarter, I decided to do something different. I kept my mind from wandering by listening to songs and associating the information I needed to learn with the rhythm of the music.
Somehow, the information got imprinted and I passed the class.
Music holds a great power. It can help someone pass a math class and it can evoke some of the most powerful emotions: love, sadness, joy and excitement.
Filmmakers already know this. They use music to scare us, rev us up or pull on our heartstrings.
They combine scene content with the right background music for maximum audience involvement. With the right music, movies become an interactive experience.
Music lets us all be rock stars. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a good singer or a bad singer. It doesn’t matter if you know anything about playing guitar.
I have lost countless hours air drumming to songs that matched my mood at the time. But for me, music hasn’t just been entertainment; it makes life better.
Music lets us forget the troubles of everyday life. We can get lost in a song. We can turn up the volume and suddenly become a talented lead singer. Belt out the lyrics. Swing your arms and play to an imaginary crowd.
It’s imaginary fun that anyone can experience with the right song.
I like to pair music with the weather, like a fine wine with food. Somber music that touches the soul is perfect for when it rains and the sky is cloudy. (Yes, I listen to a lot of somber music.)
And when the sun comes out, nothing beats driving around with friends, windows down, blasting electronic or pop-punk music while we all do our best to sing along with the lyrics, our heads bobbing to the rhythm that surrounds us and floods through our ears.
But there’s an unwritten rule when it comes to music in the car: If you’re not driving, hands off the radio or playlist. Driver’s choice always.
As Jackie Chan said in the movie “Rush Hour 2” – “Don’t you ever touch a Chinese man’s CD.”
Music and friendship are often closely linked. There’s a special joy that comes from watching a friend begin to love a song that I love. I wait for the grin that comes across my friend’s face when the beat hits just right.
And thanks to technology, digital music services like Spotify will choose your music for you. I’ve found so much great music through Spotify’s different playlists.
Their “Discover Weekly” personalized playlist has expanded my world. They’ve already figured out what music I’m likely to appreciate. I couldn’t go back to regular radio.
My taste in music is constantly evolving. That tells me I am evolving, too.
I may never be a professional air drummer or lead singer in a real band, but music connects me to life. Its universal qualities bring people together, and it’s helped me to learn about myself.
If you find yourself listening to the same old tunes, listen to something new and gain a whole new experience.
We’re often asked to see the world through another’s eyes, but I think every now and then we should hear the world through another’s ears.
You're never too old to pick up an air guitar and start strumming.
Michael Free, Jr., is a student who grew up in Milton and studied writing at the University of Washington Tacoma. He is one of six reader columnists who write for this page. Email him at email@example.com