Another cycle ends and begins…around the country, there is still the sound of bass drums, trumpets, and piccolos wrapping up another session of “band camp”; and, while this isn’t the case for every school, many of us are holding on to the thread of a music department or program we may still have. For me, I begin another chapter, starting the school year with the 1st-5th graders! WOW! “Hello, Everybody, Yes In Deed…”
I recognize that for many schools and districts around the country, there is no formal music time at elementary schools. Whether it was a budget reduction action or it was to make room for more so-called intervention for math or language skill development, the reduction of early grades music seems normal to hear.
In the August 21, 2012, Los Angeles Times Health section, Melissa Healy reports on a recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, which acknowledges how even as little as two or three years of instrumental music training in elementary or middle school positively affects development beyond those two or three years. The result? The extra musical benefits (Kindall-Smith, 2010) include heightened skills, such as attention, organization, and short term memory, which correlate to improved academic development. Seems like folding in instrumental music would be a wise addition to the so-called intervention strategies.
As exciting as this new year can be – and I’m fortunate to be in a district with, at least, general music each week – I am nostalgic and saddened that we do not formally offer instrumental music for our elementary students. I am working to provide enrichment opportunities for my students, while working with a team of others to provide opportunities for more students throughout the district. It seems like the time is ripe for thinking outside of the system, for going along a different path to get the closets full of instruments into the hands of the younger students…
Healy, M. (2012). Mental benefits of music lessons echo years after practice ends. Los Angeles Times, August 21, 2012.
Kindall-Smith, M. (2010). Is there musical meaning in the musical? Music Educators Journal, 96 (3), pp. 35-38.