If you clicked on this blog post to read, I might be able to make the assumption that music has had some sort of impact on your life, whether it’s because you are majoring in music in college, or because you simply love walking around with earbuds in your ears. The reason anyone is ever able to enjoy this art form is because of one powerful aspect of our society; education. If you played in a band and had the time of your life, that wouldn’t have been possible without the program that you joined in the first place. If you enjoy listening to jazz being blasted in your ears, or any assortment of pop, classical, rock, or reggae for that matter… it is because someone taught those artists how to foster their talents and make something of it. Music is beautiful and life altering all by itself, just by being itself; but what many of us don’t realize is that it actually has powers that extend beyond the simple joy of listening to it or playing it.
Therefore, if we remove it from the school systems, or even don’t give it the emphasis that it deserves, there will be noticeable differences in our world. (You may be rolling your eyes at this statement.)
But here’s why.
1. Music fosters critical thinking skills. (Wait, you’re saying it actually makes you smarter…? Um, YES!)
- For those of you who play an instrument, you know there is nothing more challenging than trying to read the music, play the rhythms accurately, execute the right notes, acknowledge the dynamics and articulation, maintain breath support and proper technique and hand position and, AHH! There is SO much to think about, ALL AT ONCE! Because of this, it fires your brain up in a way that almost nothing else is capable of. This challenge to think quickly, multitask, and maintain multiple actions at once then translates to an ability to think through complex math problems, devise a cogent argument in an essay, etc. It has been statistically proven that music students do significantly better in school; in music therapy, we have a phrase that goes a little like… “If it gets fired, it gets wired!” Meaning, if the neurons in your brain for critical thinking are consistently fired off in band class everyday, they will then wire the neurons that learn an equation or memorize historical data. So music literally unites the mind? Um, YES! And if you have to think that hard when you play music… It must be pretty tricky to master it, right? Yes! Therefore…
2. Music teaches students a sense of perseverance and determination.
- Kids will take these skills acquired in band, orchestra, or choir and apply it to leading successful lives; even if it’s not in the field of music. That means there will be more innovators, more inventors, more business start-ups, and more positive changes in general occurring in our world. But how? Because people will know that if they work incredibly hard, if they persevere, if they fight, if they don’t give up, that they can do it. Why? Because many of us learned this in music. Even if an individual never seriously pursued this art form, these virtues obtained through childhood piano lessons or participation in their high school marching band inadvertently carry over into the way they perceive their capability of making a difference. So if we work really hard, we can create something amazing? I wonder how that makes students feel…
3. Music boosts self confidence and supplies students with a sense of purpose.
- When they learn to play their favorite song, or they accomplish a really tricky musical task (with the perseverance and determination that they learned!) all of a sudden, they wonder what else they can do if they were able to do that. They are more motivated to get out in the world, get involved in their community, get better grades…because they know they are capable. Supplying a child with a sense of self worth is the most valuable gift you can offer them; and the educators that make kids feel like they matter are often times the most critical individuals in that child’s development. What is often even more influential is when they can achieve this feeling of worth because of something they personally accomplished due to the effort they put in. This can be manifested in a multitude of ways, but music is a sure fire way to achieve this rejuvenating feeling.
So to address all parts of the title of this post…
Why is it so critical right now?
There is one super power of music that I did not mention in the 3 reasons listed above, yet it is probably the most valuable lesson it can provide. And it is one that is the most urgently important to grab hold of right now, in 2017, where many believe that hate is prevailing in America.
Music teaches acceptance of others.
When you play music with a group of individuals, you inadvertently overlook the differences that exist between the people sharing this common purpose and joy. It is probably the most de-segregated feature of our nation to this day, and it always has been (refer to my soapbox about jazz music.) Whatever race, religion, sexual identity, intellectual difference, or socially awkward tendency you may have as a human, somehow the mass majority of us are able to come together and blow over some changes or learn a Mozart sonata despite these differences. Why is that? Because music does not have the same stringent guidelines for unity and acceptance that our society does… it accepts all in its beautiful pursuit, and sweeps the people up right with it.
I know I advocate for the power of this art form until I’m blue in the face… it must get exhausting for those of you who read my posts. Some of you must ask…how can music, something so minute, something so artistic, something so seemingly nonessential in our society, make such a huge difference?
My answer is this: Music is the vehicle, not the solution. Problems will not be solved because people played music together. Problems will be solved because playing music with someone allowed them to enjoy someone’s presence, admire their abilities, and accept them as a person. This then is able to be translated to the overall sentiment that you hold toward an individual, toward a race, toward a group of people.
I’ve seen what music can do; I’ve watched people from different nations, who didn’t even speak the same language, grab one another’s hands and break into a jig. I’ve watched it dissolve handicaps, I’ve seen it become the reason why a kid wants to learn, wants to wake up and go to school everyday, want to keep living. I’ve seen it supply a profound sense of accomplishment. And I’ve most definitely witnessed it change more lives than I could even begin to count. Including mine. As I am comping to someone’s solo in my jazz ensemble, or taking notes in music history, or playing guitar with my music therapy gals in a practice room… I think about how unbelievably blessed I am to be able to enjoy this everyday, and to even pursue it as a career. I also think about all of the people who would have loved to do what I do, but didn’t have the opportunities or the support that I did. I am able to be touched by this art form, and able to touch others, because of the education I received. There have been a countless amount of individuals who have made a profound impact through music education, and they were able to make that impact because of an impact that was made on them; it’s a cycle that never ends. If we cut out this influence, even for just four short years, that is four generations of students that do not get to be touched by music. And that is then four generations of students who cannot touch others with music. The dent then becomes suddenly more severe than we think it could be; that implies there are less dreamers, do-ers, passion pursuers, organization starters, innovators, engineers, inventors, teachers, doctors, and lawyers that are put into this world because they didn’t have music as a powerful force in their life. It sounds ridiculous because it’s just art; but like I said, it is the vehicle to sagacious ideas and insightful innovation and an empowering sense of acceptance that only this is capable of providing.
A call to action is necessary; the power of music cannot become less penetrable because of government regulation, but unfortunately, the support for music education can. For those of us who believe in this with all our hearts, for those of us who have been fortunate enough to be touched by this… if times become trying… please let’s do something about it. The most egregious error we can make right now is to sit on our behinds while the world changes around us.
There are so many schools who are already struggling as it is.
Schools where kids are turned away because they can’t afford an instrument of their own and the school doesn’t have the funds to provide one for them.
Schools that don’t even have a music program because the district can’t afford to hire the teachers for it.
Schools that can’t put on performances because they don’t have the facilities, the money, etc.
Many of us have a way that we can take small actions that add up to making a magnanimous difference; giving lessons is an unbelievably powerful way in and of itself. Donating instruments, volunteering at some of these schools… you never know what you could ignite in a child; by providing them with this simply joy, you have the potential to inspire success for generations to come.
I applaud you if you made it all the way through this long winded tangent. For those of us who have been so significantly inspired by music, we know how crucial the continuation of education for it is. There is nothing I believe in more on this earth.
I ask that whatever brings you joy in your life; keep sharing it, however simple it may be. Keep laughing, keep loving, and keep fighting for all things in the name of love.
Thank you for reading ❤
*If you would like to contribute to my educational fund, you can read my story and donate at https://www.gofundme.com/hannahlentztuitionfund. Anything is appreciated!