The Patterson Library blog is happy to welcome the words of others through our monthly guest blog series. This month's blog post comes from Mariana Mathewson, a junior music education major at Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA. Mariana will be playing a concert in our Reading Room on Thursday, April 13, at 6 p.m. Until then, enjoy Mariana's post on the importance of music education.
"Why Music Education Matters"
by Mariana Mathewson
There has been a lot of research recently that suggests that music strongly affects the brain. The field of Music Therapy is growing rapidly, as more studies show the power of music in healing and rehabilitation. Music in the classroom, however, is something that seems to be overlooked, especially with the spike in standardized testing and cuts to art funding in recent years. Music has an abundance of benefits, especially for the developing brain. Socially, emotionally, physically and mentally, music is something that can foster growth in all of these areas.
When children participate in the act of making music, whether it be as simple as singing a melody in unison or as complicated as a large high school ensemble, they are communicating with each other on a different level. Reading body language and responding to the sounds that their peers make is an essential part of making music in a group, and is so easily accessible. A spirit of cooperation is fostered, and kids really have to work together in order for music to be made effectively.
Emotionally, music can help children learn to understand and express feelings. An important part of making music is to understand the composer’s intentions about the piece or song, and learning how to convey those emotions to an audience. This really helps children identify emotions that they may have experienced before, and music is a very healthy way for them to express them.
Music is like a sport-- you have to be in good physical shape in order to do it well, and you have to train like an athlete in order to be successful. While this may not mean hopping on the treadmill every day, children can develop advanced fine motor skills much faster and much more efficiently by learning to play an instrument. Lung strength is developed by singing and playing wind instruments, and excellent hand-eye coordination can be developed with strings, percussion and piano.
Learning to read music is like learning to read another language; then add having to produce those sounds on an instrument, and the result is an astounding amount of mental processing. Music is one of the best combatants of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in elderly populations, and in students it has shown in studies to actually improve standardized test scores. Making music takes an incredible amount of focus and attention, and requires children to multi-task. This all supports a lot of brain growth!
There are so many ways that music is essential to a child’s growth and development. As humans, we have this primal connection to organized sound. By giving children the tools to make music through proper education, we are preparing them to be better humans.