The Power Of Music
I recently went to the Milwaukee restaurant, Organ Piper Pizza, for a night of music and fun. Organ Piper Pizza is a small little restaurant stuck in the 1970’s, with a giant pipe organ in the middle. People, while enjoying pizza are entertained by one musician playing requests from the crowd of half kids and adults. The musician played everything from Michael Jackson to Disney’s Frozen to The Star Wars melody’s. This man could probably play any song under the sun. The more impressive thing is this man knows what every switch on this grand organ does. It’s hard to describe what it looks like but just imaginal the cockpit of a jumbo jet and double it, that’s the number of switches, keys, and pedals that are on this thing.
While at this restaurant I was taken back to my music days in high school. I played several saxophones as well as low brass. Music has always been a huge part in my life. I credit music for all my success as a young adult. Music taught me how to be a part of something bigger than just me. It also taught me individual responsibility and improved my academic capacity.
Studies have shown that people who read music tend to have higher math and reading scores on standardized tests. They are also more likely to get into university’s and are often better candidates for higher paying jobs.
One might ask how just playing an instrument could do all of this but if you look at it closer it becomes obvious. In a musical ensemble if one person is out of tune then the group will suffer. This teaches individual responsibility, which translates into being able to work diligently as an individual and individual thinking skills. Both are desired qualities for future employers as well as university admissions boards.
Another thing being in an ensemble can teach you is listening. When playing with others you must always be listening to everyone else as well as yourself. This teaches good listening skills as well as the intention to detail skills. These are once again vital to future employers and will serve as great attributes moving forward with education.
Academically music can help with math and reading skills by using that part of your brain equated with these areas. Music is nothing but counting notes and understanding what the note on the page means for your instrument. They call it reading music because you literally must read the music from left to right just like a book. Repeated reading hones your skills for understanding difficult texts and works on comprehension retention.
So, if music has all these wonderful benefits why are school districts across the county cutting music programs? I believe that it is because of two major reasons. One is the lack of funding. It is known that schools are hurting for money and because music is most of the time an elective class it is often on the cutting block. But this comes from a lack of understanding of the benefits of music. Most of the time funding for schools comes based on test scores of students, so the schools focus on the testing areas such as math, reading and science. This is a fundamental flaw in the educating of students. Music, as I previously explained, boosts test scores and knowledge retention. So, if schools really want to get their tests scores up maybe they should look to expand music programs rather than cut them.
I think another main reason for the lack of music in schools is a general lack of interest by the students. Every year in Band my classes numbers dwindled. By my senior year of high school, we only had about 10 people graduate as part of the band. There are several reasons for this. One is people don’t know how awesome music is and just base their knowledge of music education off the stereotypical band geek and orchestra dork. Another reason for the lack of interest in the band is that parents have their students stretched thin. When parents think of their kid’s future they want them to be a sports star or a super genius. So, parents throw a ton of money and their kids time into great coaches or extra tutors.
If parents want their students to get ahead in this competitive world they should encourage music rather than cut it first. I believe most if not all parents want their kids to go on to college however most don’t have the funds to pay for it. This is the base for the desire for students to be great athletes or super geniuses because with that comes scholarships.
No doubt these things can bring in big time scholarships but the fact of the matter is not everyone is one of those types of people. People who can throw a ball well or can do advanced calculus in middle school are rare. But I believe that everyone can learn how to play an instrument. At most higher education institutions, they have bands and orchestras willing to give out money to those students who play in these ensembles. No, it may not be a full ride but anything can help.
The other plus side is that people will come to understand music and the beauty of expression through it. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about music, dance, or even play my saxophone. Music is a part of my life and it has opened many doors for me. I understand the wonder of Bing Crosby or Glen Miller. I know how special Mozart and Beethoven were to the world. I know how our modern beats and songs are based on old middle age musical ideas.
Music isn’t just something to listen to in the car. It is a beautiful art, that can affect anyone. It’s a shame that we don’t have places to have dinner and a show with live music. I feel that the only time we listen to music is at loud, overcrowded, and overpriced concerts.
I think as we move forward in our society and our culture keeps developing we should keep in mind music. We should learn music, study music and create our own great music. We also need to not dwell on the past but we do need to look back with appreciation and gratitude of what previous generations have done. Let move forward as a generation and society to not tear down what others have done but rather build off it. Let’s make 2017 a great year not only in music but in every aspect of life.
Shout out to Andy!