Folds fights for music education


Alli Arnett, Social Media Coordinator

Ben Folds, a singer-songwriter that currently has over 20 million streams on Spotify, once walked the RJ Reynolds halls. Folds is known for creating genre-bending albums with his group, Ben Folds Five, as well as his chart topping solo tracks. Not only is he a multi-instrumentalist but he also advocates for arts education and therapy. 

“I have been a fan of his since I was a little kid,” junior Alex Green said. “It’s cool to know that someone I look up to has walked these same halls.” 

During Folds’ time at Reynolds he played in the orchestra and several bands as a pianist, drummer and bassist.

Folds’ career began to kick off when he moved to Nashville. He was a bassist for a band called, Majosha and played drums as a session musician. Folds was recognized for his uniquely talented piano playing which would soon launch him into his solo career. 

“I have been to four of his concerts and he is one of the best live performers I’ve seen,” Green said.

Folds has toured all around the world, including Australia, Europe and Japan.

After his travels, Folds met with some of the guitar and piano students from Reynolds to talk about the music industry and his claim to fame. 

“I had the opportunity to ask Ben what went through his mind during the creative process of writing his solos,” junior Nick Lafley said. “He told me ‘hopefully nothing,’ meaning that the best ideas come when you are not over thinking. Since then I’ve tried to naturally let musical ideas flow.” 

Nick mentions how Folds has inspired him when it comes to making his own music and exploring instrumentally. 

Folds built a fan base of over a million listeners and a social media presence of almost 62,000 followers. He uses his platform to create an impact on musical students. 

“To lowering pain levels, to help those who lost the ability to speak find their voice again,” Folds said in a social media post, describing the benefit of music therapy in hopes of spreading awareness. He believes that music is a strong form of communication and a way for students to express themselves, just like writing or speaking. 

While traveling the world, he has met with kids who are autistic, have brain damage, hearing loss and other mental illnesses. He watched as these people experience lower pain levels, rewire neural pathways and a voice to those who cannot easily speak. 

“I believe that positive music education experiences can change students’ belief in themselves and what they are capable of,” said RJR piano teacher, Mrs. Harlee. “We teach students to use the arts to heal their emotional wounds, to strengthen their sense of self confidence, to make connections with others through the expression of or experience with music or an art form.”

“I think music therapy is very important,” Lafley said. “I think there is something in music for everyone. It makes you feel things you didn’t know you could.”