I was sitting in my 1st grade class spacing out (as I did often) when I heard my teacher play “Jolly Old St. Nicholas” on her old classroom piano. I was facing the back of the piano, and remember moving my fingers on the carpet, as I was trying to figure out what she was playing. My dad had just brought home an old piano from our church that they were giving away, and it had just kind of been sitting there. Well, I decided I was going to go home and learn how to play that thing. After dinking around for a while, I figured out how to play the melody to the song I had only heard a few hours earlier. My mom said, “Jessica did your teacher teach that to you today?” I said “no she played it for us.” My mom then said “Oh so you watched her play it?” Me “No I couldn’t see her hands because we were facing the back of the piano.” My mom then reached for the phone to call my dad to let him know I needed to start piano lessons and the rest, as they say, is history. I’m not saying I would have never had a desire to learn the piano, but because a teacher took the time to play a song just because she enjoyed doing it, she impacted at least one student that day.
It breaks my heart when I hear about music programs being cut from schools, people saying “oh I wish I had learned that one instrument when I was growing up”, or when kids quit taking lessons because it isn’t “cool” or it is “boring.” Music education is SO important, whether through private lessons, school music programs, music at church, online curriculum, or even just music appreciation and listening. Children who take music lessons have better memory patterns through the span of only one year, when measured against kids who have no music education.
I can’t imagine a world where there is no music. Can you think about how boring and blah it would be? Whole sporting events would be sat through without one song played over the loud speakers, commercials, tv shows, and movies would all be filled with a bunch of talking, the radio would be filled with talk radio (gag me), and even the simplest sounds of a baby crying or a bird singing would be nonexistent because sound is a part of music. Music is universal and is the only “language” that everyone all over the world, no matter what spoken language they use, can understand. Music is everywhere and is all around us. If we can’t imagine having no music in our lives, then why is it so easy to view music as just an “elective” or easy to say “well we need to cut something so music is it.”
Music is in science (frequency of sound and modulation of notes), history (all around the world, music is different in each culture), math (changing time signatures and the way they are counted while keeping the beat), English (poems read with a steady beat), and foreign language (so many Classical musicians and pieces written in lots of different languages). When I taught music in the schools, I would teach a multiplication rap and would all of a sudden see the light bulb go off in some kids minds who were struggling. Most of the time, I would start class off with a story that they had to either keep the steady beat to or do the motions from the book. We would do a composer of the month and would talk about the countries on the map of where that particular person was from to form connections to social studies. We would learn songs from other languages, and although it wasn’t always spoken accurately, the kids learned that music from around the world is influenced by the culture that those people are a part of. People who have taken music lessons have better language and reasoning skills, increased coordination when learning a musical instrument, have a sense of achievement and accomplishment, are motivated to try harder at something they love, and are smarter in math and spatial skills. A Stanford study showed that music uses parts of the brain where attention spans, predicting things, and keeping our memory sharp are involved.
Music helps us feel, develop into our personalities by finding our likes and dislikes, helps us express ourselves, gives us a sense of purpose, is highly emotional, and can reach us to the very core. Musical groups, ensembles, choirs, or learning an instrument give us a sense of accomplishment. It helps us feel like we are a part of something bigger than ourselves and makes us want to strive for excellence. I believe that quality music education is an absolute must! If you have a desire to learn music, go for it! There really is nothing to lose, but is everything to gain.
What are your thoughts about why music education is important? How has it impacted your life or the life of your child?
If you are a parent, student, or teacher who wants to learn more about music, connect with other musicians, or wants to post their latest videos of what they’ve been working on, I would love for you to join my Facebook group Music Education Connection. Collaborate, learn from each other, and grow new friendships. This is a place to receive encouragement, positive feedback, and to ask questions.