For the first six months that I played the flute, I nearly passed out every time.
It hadn’t quite clicked for fifth-grade me that you didn’t need to take enormous breaths between each and every quarter note. I would stumble out of the band room in a fog, wondering if I was ever going to figure it out, while simultaneously griping about whoever invented an instrument that you blew over, not into.
One day, though, I got it. I made a sound. A shrill dying-goose sound, like you heard the third-graders playing on recorders in the hallway, but a sound. I was hooked.
I stayed in band throughout middle school, junior high, high school. I played in the community band at my first job at a university. I played at my church. And I now play for my hometown community alumni band.
I wasn’t a music major. I’m no professional. And I make plenty of mistakes. But I’m grateful that I toughed it out those first six months, and I know it’s been good for me all through the years. Here’s why.
1. Music makes for a well-rounded education.
Science, technology, math, and language arts are all key factors in a basic education. But music and the arts should be, too.
According to the New England Board of Higher Education, incorporating music into a student’s education can provide the following benefits, among others:
- Enhanced language capabilities
- Better memory
- Increased hand-eye coordination
- Improved teamwork
Music has also been linked to better outcomes for language-learning, since it uses a similar area of the brain. And it provides a group setting that helps kids begin to have a shared cultural experience, no tour bus required.
2. Music is a lifelong hobby.
It’s always strangely depressing to me when an athlete retires at the ripe old age of 35. Hobbies like sports and other physically demanding activities favor the young.
Not so with music and the arts. Like a fine wine, many artists improve with age as they increase their technical skills and develop an ear (or eye) for what’s best. Spending more time with a hobby also allows you to truly master it and put your own unique spin on the craft.
Think of a 70-year-old piano player who’s at their creative peak. Not everyone will become a pro football player, but many people can become impressive musicians with time and practice.
3. Music is a creative outlet.
There are times when no words will do, only music. Everyone is familiar with a favorite tune that can instantly pick you up, or a melancholy one that can match our mood on blue days.
Making music, too, can help us express the thoughts and emotions that we may not know how to speak or write. Just think of how deeply music is interwoven into the biggest moments of our lives. That’s because music is innately tied to the emotions, and can, according to Psychology Today, engage “many parts of the brain, triggering connections and creating associations.” Music can also stimulate the release of dopamine, the feel-good hormone in our brains.
Certainly, not everyone has the same taste in music. But a recent Statista study found that just 8% of people say they don’t listen to music (which seems a little high to me – even unintentionally, you hear it all around you). For the other 92%, it’s an important part of their lives.
How to Support Music & The Arts in Education
A well-rounded education enhances and strengthens our communities and celebrates diverse cultures. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to get involved and help make the arts accessible for everyone.
Start with Project Giving Kids’ activity search and check out a few ways you can support the arts in your area. From creating fun, inspirational pieces of artwork to tutoring younger kids on their instruments, you’ll find something to fit your skills and interests.