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11 Things About Music Education (long but awesome)
- 1: Children who study music tend to have larger vocabularies and more advanced reading skills than their peers who do not participate in music lessons.
- 2: Studying music primes the brain to comprehend speech in a noisy background. *Children with learning disabilities or dyslexia who tend to lose focus with more noise could benefit greatly from music lessons.
- 3: Research shows that music is to the brain as physical exercise is to the human body. Music tones the brain for auditory fitness and allows it to decipher between tone and pitch.
- 4: Children who study a musical instrument are more likely to excel in all of their studies, work better in teams, have enhanced critical thinking skills, stay in school, and pursue further education.
- 5: In the past, secondary students who participate in a musical group at school reported the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances (tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs).
- 6: Schools with music programs have an estimated 90.2 percent graduation rate and 93.9 percent attendance rate compared to schools without music education who average 72.9 percent graduation and 84.9 percent attendance.
- 7: Regardless of socioeconomic status or school district, students who participate in high-quality music programs score 22 percent better on English and 20 percent better on Math standardized exams.
- 8: Much like expert technical skills, mastery in arts and humanities is closely correlated to high earnings.
- 9: A study from Columbia University revealed that students who study arts are more cooperative with their teachers and peers, have higher levels of self-confidence, and are more equipped to express themselves and their ideas.
- 10: Elementary age children who are involved in music lessons show greater brain development and memory improvement within a year than children who receive no musical training.
- 11: Learning and mastering a musical instrument improves the way the brain breaks down and understands human language, making music students more apt to pick up a second language.
Imagine a society in which children, though of course constantly exposed from infancy on to the speech of people in the world around them and on the telescreens perpetually murmuring away in the background, had little to no experience in actually speaking on their own until their first year of public education. Sometime during the first week of class, shiny, colorful textbooks would be distributed from which the pupils would begin learning the written letters of their language one at a time, along with the phonemes which they represent. Gradually, one at a time, these sounds would be presented and practiced through a continual stream of ingenious exercises: “Ah, ah…er, er…ah, er, ir, or, arr…” Perhaps by late in the second year actual words would be introduced; by age 12 or so, the average student would have become a more or less proficient (if halting) speaker, able to recall with glittering perfection any of the sentences or paragraphs he or she had learned through careful study and practice of the prescribed texts by acknowledged masters. Roughly by the age at which they might be applying for their driver’s licenses, a few exceptional students might even have developed the ability to create phrases of their own extemporaneously in accordance with certain predetermined patterns of intention and meaning—a practice generally ignored or even discouraged in the mainstream, but celebrated in a parallel and derivative tradition of speech known as snazz. Snazz, naturally, would be largely divorced from ‘classical’ language, taught in separate facilities according to a separate, often less formal curriculum.
Having more or less grasped the mechanical basics of written and spoken language by graduation from secondary school, those groping minds which could not so easily be discouraged by parents and counselors from pursuing a career involving language in some way could look forward to cramming a comprehensive study of the entire history, content, and analysis of the literature, as well as any discussion and guided practice of formal written speechcraft, into a rigorously standardized four-year course of collegiate study.
Such a dystopia may seem patently ridiculous, but consider this: though the comparison is necessarily somewhat limited, it is really very similar in many ways to the rather rectilinear and narrowly frustrated modern paradigm of music education.
“I hear parents telling their kids that they, too, can be famous soloists if they work hard enough. That, to me, is the worst thing you can do to a child. If you lead them toward music, teach them that it is beautiful, and help them learn, say, ‘Oh, you love music, well, let’s work on this piece together and I’ll show you something,’ then that’s very different. That’s a creative nurturing. But if you just push them to be stars, and tell them they’ll become rich and famous — or, worse, if you try to live through them — that is damaging.”—Yo-Yo Ma
How to Practice Less & Get More Done
How to Practice Less and Get More Done
Ever feel like there’s just so much music to practice?
Or do your students not practice piano?
We’re so hung up on practicing that we forget WHY we practice sometimes– to improve.
That’s why most practicing is a waste of time.
Thoughts on Music Theory
There are plenty of resources available to help students learn traditional, Western music theory. Some of my favorites:
Students should have a good grasp on the “why” and “how” of the music that they make. Knowing the structure of a piece can lead to a richer performing experience. Deeper understanding of harmonic function can inform improvisation and composition. There are very few arguments against teaching music theory to students.
One of the major barriers for me as I attempted to introduce improvisation and composition in my classes was theory.