Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Benefits of Music

                We can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by encouraging the rising generation to become more involved with good music.  Our children and youth can become better students in numerous ways by learning to play a musical instrument.  Our students can improve their scholastic abilities simply by listening to the right kinds of music.

               Studies show that music has a variety of benefits for our children and youth:  1) Children playing classical music boost their concentration and self-discipline as well as improve their general listening and social skills.  2) Musicians have sharper minds and are less likely to suffer a mental decline.  3) Exposure to the works of classical artists such as Beethoven and Mozart bring appreciation of a wider range of music in later years.  4) Classical music aids the learning of other subjects such as English and mathematics.  5) People who master instruments such as the piano, flute or violin increase their ability to recognize mistakes and fix them quickly.

                How can listening and/or playing music have such a powerful effect on people?  Before I started taking piano lessons, I would have a difficult time believing these study results.  Now I believe them.  My teacher is a professional piano teacher, meaning she went to an academy to prepare her to teach music.  She understands things about music that most people have not even heard.  I started my lessons with very little musical theory and am learning much.

                One day I was discussing with my teacher the difficulty I was having learning to coordinate my eyes, both hands, and feet.  She explained that music is the only activity that involves the entire brain and that the piano is the most difficult musical instrument to learn how to play.  In order to play the music on the page, my eyes have to see the notes, the fingers on right hand have to play one set of notes while the fingers on the left hand have to play another set of notes, and the foot has to pump the pedal at the correct time.  In addition to all these motions, my brain has to keep track of what count each note should have.

                At my last lesson I mentioned that I had two entirely different experiences while practicing my two assigned pieces.  I told her that I had thoroughly enjoyed playing “Silent Night” and played it much more than “A Holly Jolly Christmas.”  She explained how Franz Gruber wrote the notes in “Silent Night” according to rules that guide music and Johnny Marks wrote the notes in “A Holly Jolly Christmas” according to what sounded good to him.  How the notes are written has a great effect on how they are played.

                I believe that listening to music can help children learn to concentrate better because of my own personal experience.  When I first started listening to instrumental music, I could not differentiate between the instruments at all.  Slowly, very slowly, I began to pick out the piano, then the violin, and then other instruments.  I am far from being an expert on music, but I have learned greater appreciation for it.

                I have a very good friend who plays the piano beautifully and can accompany any singer around.  She also teaches mathematics at the local university and tutors secondary students in math classes.  As far as I am concerned, she is an expert in both areas.  Is this a coincidence or did her musical ability help her develop her mathematical abilities?

                I enjoy the friendships of many musicians, particularly people who play the piano well.  Every one of them is intelligent and accomplished in several areas.  I also know a family where music is limited to classical music or Church-related music.  The children are self-disciplined and outstanding students.  Are their overall accomplishments a result of the music they hear and play?

                I was a dutiful mother and made sure that each of my children had the opportunity to take piano lessons.  A couple of them played instruments in school bands.  None of them play instruments today but they could easily pick it up if they chose to do so.  They received many of the benefits of music and today their own children have the opportunity to take piano lesson.  My older grandchildren play other instruments of their own choosing, either on their own or as part of their school bands.  These same grandchildren are outstanding students.

                I truly believe that music can strengthen our children and youth.  Obviously, mastering a musical instrument will have a greater impact, but even the simple act of listening to classical music builds other skills needed to be good students.  I know that we can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by insuring that our rising generation has the benefits of good music in their lives.

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