Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Power of the Arts and Music

Long before humans learned to use letters to represent sounds in their language, they were leaving pictures on cave walls as a form of written communication. Likewise, by replicating sounds, such as birds chirping, leaves rustling or seed pods rattling, humans could signal each other to warn of danger, relay events and pinpoint a location with the echo produced from a hammered tree. Wow! When these and other sounds were strung together and interspersed with pauses of silence, a story could be told. This became our first rudimentary music! Evidently, the arts have been with us since the beginning of human existence. 

Expressing Emotions

Music evolved for many purposes including ceremonial reasons, religious and pure pleasure. Churches have hymns, people play or listen to music when they are happy, sad or for any number of reasons to vent their feelings. Ceremonies like graduation don't officially commence without the first strains of Sir Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance for instance. 

Music Supports Learning

Music does much more than support or reflect human emotions and act as signals, it backs up academic performance over all curricula. Studies dating back to the 1950's have offered evidence that instruction in music helps children surpass those without it in memory skills and content areas like mathematics and literacy. Some evidence even suggests an increas in IQ and higher SAT scores for children with musical backgrounds. Regardless, music brings great joy, can increase self-esteem, and gives everyone a medium upon which to focus attention 

Unfortunately, not all communities have the resources for musical education, so humanitarian groups have been established with the goal to bring music to all. For example, Sing for Hope supports a pop up pianos in New York event that makes music accessible to thousands of people on the city's streets. Children who may have never before seen a piano will have the opportunities to sit at a piano and actually touch the keys to make music. Awesome! 

It's hard for most of us to imagine life without music. Music reaches our very souls and is an integral part of the human experience. Keeping that in mind, Art curriculum shouldn't be isolated or only for those with the financial resources to include it in their children's educations. As with so much in our modern world, we see to be discovering what ancient people discovered long before our time and in Plato's words, "Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything."

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