Ah, music.

Chances are, music influences our lives in one way or another every day andndash; whether we realize it or not.

Did you listen to the radio today while working around the house? While in the car doing errands? Running on the treadmill? Did you catch yourself humming a favorite tune or an annoying ditty that's stuck in your head?

Did you notice a familiar song playing softly in the elevator, at the doctor's office or the grocery store? How about the music in a movie or a television show or commercial?

Music is everywhere and has been an integral part of human history andndash; from tribal chanting around the fire to listening to iPods. Music is a form of communication that can be shared by any people andndash; even if they don't speak the same language.

Music is powerful stuff. It fuels youthful dreams of fame and fortune, from karoke night at the local bar to "American Idol." It's used to lull babies to sleep and help children to learn. It comforts the sick and dying.

Research has shown that exposure to the music and other arts goes beyond developing creativity. Americans for the Arts Association and the National School Boards Association recently issued facts that show children who consistently participate in comprehensive and rigorous arts programs are:

andbull;Four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement.

andbull;Three times more likely to be elected to class office within their school.

andbull;Four times more likely to participate in math and a science fairs.

andbull;Three times more likely to win an award for school attendance.

The other day I read about how music may help Alzheimer's patients. The report told of an older woman with this illness who, after dancing with her husband to a song she liked, showed a decrease in symptoms.

Music has the ability to tap the deep well of emotion within each of us andndash; affecting our moods, perception and behavior. A well-written, well-performed song or composition can lift us from our everyday surroundings and take us on a journey of the heart and mind as no drug can.

I salute those with the patience and perseverance to practice and perfect their music for the pleasure of others. In Curry County, there are a growing number of such people.

More and more musicians are connecting and performing, solo or in groups, at various venues such as the Farmers Market at the Port of Brookings Harbor, the Hootenanny singalongs, Stagelights' Community Music Showcases, and the American Music Festival's summer concerts at Azalea Park. There are also the Second Saturday Art Walks in downtown Brookings, during which musicians perform.

The Pilot's Coastal Living section, and specifically the "Art Scene" column, regularly lists a number of free or low-cost music events. Check it out. You won't be disappointed.

I urge everyone to take advantage of the growing number of music opportunities in our community. And I encourage musicians to take a moment to share their love of music with a child.

Even if you don't play an instrument or can't carry a decent tune, you can still be a musician at heart. And it doesn't matter who you are, how old you are or what type of music you enjoy. All you need is ears, and the willingness to listen.

The music will do the rest.