Opinion: Good vibrations

On Monday, Feb. 3, Louis Turbeville, Seabury Hall’s dean of students, announced that headphones were not allowed on campus, thus prohibiting listening to personal music on Seabury Hall’s campus. This is not a new rule. Students have been aware of this policy since entering the school, but I question whether this ban on music is fair or advantageous for students.

I agree that students should not be listening to music in class, but if I want to sit and focus on my studies during free block or before school while listening to the music of my choosing, is that such a problem? Is listening to music such a horrific act as to require a ban on headphones at our school? While enjoying music, I am able to drown out distractions and keep myself from distracting someone else.

A study by the Stanford School of Medicine in 2007 says that music actually causes the brain to pay attention and move more quickly. Many composers, like Mozart, made their music to help the brain organize information, a technique that many artists today (whether intentionally or not) try to mimic.

Turbeville said that we have the rule in place, “basically to promote social interaction. We don’t want people to just shut down and be a loner by themselves and not interact with everybody else in the community. And there’s some safety reasons too. If you have them on you won’t hear if we have a fire drill or a lockdown drill where we are supposed to call kids in if you’re out there with your headphones on you can’t hear.”

I understand wanting to promote social interaction, but could listening to music really impair my safety in the case of a fire or lockdown drill? Yes, listening to music can aid a student in blocking out the outside world, which would hinder social interactions, but it would not go so far as to cause someone not to hear a teacher or faculty member call them inside or the sound of a fire alarm.

Hypothetically, if I were to have my music at such an unhealthy level that I could not hear deafening alarms, I am certain I would notice the entire student body moving in a pack to one of the fields or parking lots, or if the people around me started rushing into the nearest classroom. Call me presumptuous, but I believe I have fairly healthy and functioning optic nerve that allows me to see a swarm of people fleeing around me.

Music is one of the few things that can bring complete strangers together and is often unappreciated.  People can be brought together by something as simple as, “What are you listening to?” These interactions allow for strong connections built on mutual interests, not just the pressure to fit in and socialize.

Similar to performing arts, painting or drawing, literature, or anything else that is considered art, music is an art form. It can impassion and inspire people. This is why I do not think it is fair to take away someone’s headphones, because a school would not take away someone’s book, script, or drawing. It’s like seeing someone outside the library reading and saying, “You cannot read in your head. You must read out loud.”

There is a chance that the ban on headphones could be lifted or amended. Upper School Head Scott Winham said, “Well, it certainly could be amended. It’s more likely to be able to be used in study halls or classes, at the teacher’s permission because there’s a specific reason for using them at that point. When students are out on their free time that is when we encourage them to interact and socialize with each other.”

While I appreciate the concern for our well being, I believe that the benefits of music in our daily lives outweigh the concerns for our safety and social interaction here at Seabury Hall.