Elementary music programs offer range of benefits to kids

Brain development in all stages of childhood is complex and requires a variety of different ideas.

One idea that helps the brain to develop properly is logical thinking, and the ability to think out complex problems. What helps you to be able to do that? There are probably many possibilities, but one idea that helps with logical thinking and being able to solve complex ideas is music. If it’s true that music helps the brain develop better, why are music programs not bigger and better in schools?

According to Nigel Y. Hemet, the author of the article “The Importance of Music in Schools,” music is a combination of all the classes that are taught at school. Music teaches youths a variety of important concepts with just one skill. Music helps improve communication between the left and right sides of your brain, which helps increase your brain’s capacity to do more. Imagine a child who is introduced to music as a baby. Before that child can even speak, its brain is already developing comprehension to words. As the child starts to speak, communication and conversations flow so easily that it would seem as if the child has been talking for years. Now, imagine a child that hasn’t been introduced to music at a young age. While their brain is still able to develop words, it is more difficult and the child isn’t as fluent of a speaker.

With these facts on how music increases the brain’s capacity, it makes me curious as to why there are not music programs in regional schools. Blayne Barnes, a private violin instructor in Seattle states, when discussing music in schools, “I think it’s a shame. … Music programs are the first things to go. … For whatever reason, string programs are the first to go, over band.”

In elementary schools, the students have a mandatory music class, but this class consists of mostly singing and maybe playing small instruments like the recorder and hand drums. If there were better music programs in elementary schools, the kids would grow up knowing music concepts. Blayne also stated “Music lessons and learning an instrument is not just about learning an instrument but helps with focus, dedication and learning how to handle valuables.” These lessons are all valuable to learn in young ages, and helps when you grow older.

Many schools in Western Washington offer music programs such as band, but most don’t offer anything else. Sure, band is a great opportunity to learn, and it does involve music, which is good for the brain, but many students don’t want to play a band instrument. Some want to play stringed instruments, but don’t have the opportunity or the resources to do so. Without these opportunities, it makes it to where those students wishing to get a music degree at college have a very hard time fulfilling all the requirements to do so, because they weren’t involved in a school music program. Even though band is an excellent music program, it would be just as easy to have an orchestra where more instruments are involved and students have a wider range of instruments to choose to play, instead of being limited to just wind and brass instruments.

Another point that comes up when discussing music programs in schools, is if students get involved with them, will it increase the stress levels because it will just be another responsibility for them. According to the article “20 Important Benefits of Music in Our Schools,” music can be relaxing, which helps fight stress. The article states that music helps kids stay engaged in school, which increases grades and helps with better standardized testing skills. According to the article “Music Education Benefits,” music has the ability to relax, calm and heal. It is optimal for emotions because being involved in it helps produce happier attitudes.

Music is beneficial to not just the students that play it, but to the teachers, and the parents of these students, because there would be less stress among the child. “Music is a way to express emotion, and some kids don’t have a way to express that without an artistic outlet” Blayne expressed. If the schools combined band and orchestra program, the funding would be the same amount as just band. For schools that don’t have music programs already, fundraisers and donation opportunities to raise enough money are always options to be able to better the school programs.

Sydni Anderson is a junior at Monroe High School and attends classes at Everett Community College.

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