Video Killed the Radio Star

On Saturday, August 1, 1981, at 12:01 AM Eastern Time, MTV launched with the words “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll,” spoken by John Lack and played over footage of the first Space Shuttle launch countdown of Columbia (which took place earlier that year) and of the launch of Apollo 11.

Music television, when new, was controversial and faced stringent resistance. The purists wanted their music experience to remain the same.. Many proclaimed that music should be strictly auditory, that any visuals should come from the imagination. Those voices eventually faded away and the world evolved.

The Unsparing Ravages of New Technology

In March 1989, English scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, an information space where web resources are identified by Uniform Resource Locators (URLs), interlinked by hypertext links, and accessible via the internet. Unbeknownst at the time, it was the beginning of the end for music television.

When MTV was first launched, record sales increased for the artists who produced the videos they featured. This wasn’t much different from the power that radio stations had wielded prior to 1981. Music was more widely available, but the promotion of that music was still censored and controlled. That too would change.

One June 1st, 1999, two Northeastern college students, Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker, launched a peer-to-peer file sharing service called Napster. The original iteration only lasted two years before being shut down by record company corporate lawyers, but in that short interval these two young men changed history.

Thanks to these men and other pioneers, music is free and available online today. Look at your phone screen and you’ll see an option for music. iTunes costs money, but Youtube and Pandora offer free music. Hopefully you listen once in a while. Music is one of the seven liberal arts and sciences. As a Freemason, you should embrace it.

“Where Words Fail, Music Speaks”

The title of this section is a quote by 19th Century author Hans Christian Anderson. Another famous author, Plato, who was born in 427 BC, once stated, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” Music, since the beginning of time, has spoken a language all its own.

Does your lodge have an organist when you do degree work? His job is to employ harmony to “strengthen and support every gentle and ennobling emotion of the soul.” Have you felt the effects? Did it occur to you that music might be a useful tool to engage your brethren in other activities? Pause and reflect on that for a moment.

Using Music for Lodge of Instruction

In addition to my role with Grand Lodge’s LOI Committee, I’m also the Education Officer for the 22nd District. LOI, as you know, is evolving. Officer instruction is now available at https://MassMasons.org/training. Our in-person LOI’s are the responsibility of our District Deputies and Education Officers.

Do you use music in your LOI presentations? I do. The brethren don’t want to watch Powerpoint slides and listen to you drone on about the Grand Constitutions. We’ve covered that topic pretty thoroughly in the online learning modules. In-person LOI attendance is no longer mandatory. You need to do better than that.

Two tips I can offer that work for me:

  1. Engage your audience. Don’t just preach. Create LOI sessions where brothers can participate through discussion or Q&A.
  2. Add music to your Powerpoint presentations. Here’s how:

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