Keep Music Alive is a non-profit organization whose mission is: “to promote the VALUE OF MUSIC: for the many types of therapy music is being utilized for and for our overall happiness as a society. We believe every child deserves the opportunity to learn how to play music and every adult should be reminded that it’s never too late to start playing.” I can get behind that mission statement.
Well, one morning a few weeks ago, I opened up my email to find another one from the Keep Music Alive people inviting me to take part in Kids Music Day. (I feel there should be a possessive apostrophe on Kids, but there is not one in any of their information.)
Kids Music Day, while it is actually on Friday 4 October, is being celebrated from the 1st through the 13th. Making it more of a Kids Music Fortnight. Or almost that, a fortnight being 14 days. The purpose of this event is to highlight the importance of music as a part of children’s education.
Through the years there have been many studies done on the importance of music in assisting the developing brain. In the 1990s it was all about the Mozart Effect. Well, most of that was never what people thought it was. The basis for the Mozart Effect was a 1993 study that found that a group of 36 college students who listened to a Mozart sonata scored higher on a spatial reasoning test than they had when listening to a monotone speaker or silence before the test. The tests also found that the effect only lasted for 10-15 minutes.
While the Mozart Effect grabbed headlines, there were other studies that were showing long-term benefits of music studies. Not just listening to music but studying it. This article from Northwestern University found that studying an instrument for at least two years results in students having improvements in how the brain processes speech and therefore improved reading scores. And unlike most studies which solely rely on test scores, this study went directly to the brain with sensors that could assess what part of the brain was being stimulated while playing.
Effects of Music Education
But it is not just in language and reading that music is important. You learn about fractions as you learn about how musical beats are divided. Music can bring people together. By introducing music from a different culture, you can help bring understanding and appreciation of a diverse population. And by playing in a group, students can learn about cooperation, working together, and creating bonds that can last a lifetime.
I was pleased to learn from my local school system that music and art are gaining in funding. In the past, there have been several middle and elementary schools that have had an art teacher one semester, and a music teacher the next, with those teachers on a rotation. While this is better than no art or music at all, it is far from ideal. I was told at a meeting just a few weeks ago, that those schools will, within the next five years, have full-time art and music teachers. Music education is undoubtably in crisis all over the nation, but in Albuquerque, it is on the rise.
And there are always the private teachers – like me! While music education in the schools here is on the rise, that is not a replacement for private lessons. I know that in order to make the All-State choir, having a private voice teacher is almost a necessity. So, let me mention another organization that I am working with, Music Link. The goal of Music Link is to hook up lower income students with a teacher who is willing to take them at a significantly discounted rate.
This brings me back to Kids Music Day. This past Sunday, I hosted an open house/recital at my home studio. We had students as well as singers from around the area performing. There were munchies and mulled cider and we had a lot of fun.
Do you have a story about your days as a music student, I’d love to hear them! Also I’ll be playing all sorts of music on my Minnich Music FaceBook page this week, so be sure to check them out.
Until next time!