Today I went to my son, Shaan’s, 3rd grade Chimes Concert. It was very well done and well coordinated and I enjoyed it even though I didn’t know what to expect from a chimes concert. I was so proud of these 9 year olds who were working together in groups of 20ish to perform a range of songs from Gaelic melodies to Beethoven. Their music teacher did an amazing job coordinating them on various types of chimes. Watching these kids perform reminded me of how important music education is to our children’s mental and social growth.
The teacher reminded us of how much the kids practiced to make this beautiful music, the different techniques they mastered and how they were learning to read music. We saw that they were each responsible for their own parts and had to keep track of when they came in and out of the song. They also had a stand partner for whom they were an understudy in case that person was absent, so some had a double job. All this showed me how learning music is such an important supplement to their academics. It helps them learn patience and responsibility during the course of learning a piece. Many studies show that children who learn music score better on standardized tests and perform better in academics. They also say that the study of music helps kids in social growth by improving their confidence and also making them better listeners. As they learn the relation between sound and emotion in music, they can distinguish people’s emotional states from their speech.
So basically, music is a wonderful thing and always has been. Unfortunately with many public school budgets being cut, Music education is one of the first things to go. It is seen as non-critical and something children can do without. This is unfortunate since not all families have the time or money to give their kids private music lessons and not every child needs to learn a particular instrument. I took flute for 4 months and realized that I had no musical talent so I moved on to dance for my self-expression. However, I think learning the basics of music theory, history and music appreciation can only enrich a child’s life, culturally and academically.
I have each of my sons learning a musical instrument and they often fight me on practicing when they would rather play. It becomes quite a battle of wills at times but they still don’t want to stop their lessons. I see the joy in their faces when they finally master a tough song. This comes after lots of excuses and whining but ultimately it’s worth it. They may never be amazing musicians but they are getting better each day and listening to them play makes me happy too. It’s amazing the feelings that good music can induce. It really is something that transcends cultures and languages. So, I definitely think it is worth giving our children a musical foundation and it is not an extra we can do without.