I had the honor and pure enjoyment of starting my week attending and supervising our winter band concert this past week. I am always over the top impressed with the level of musical skill our students are able to demonstrate in such a short period of time.
We share our band instructor with 3 other schools and the students only have one practice together before each concert. When you think about it that is pretty amazing!
Our school is lucky to be able to have a band and music program under the direction of two hard-working and talented teachers. I often think they do not get enough credit for the work they are doing with our students.
Our band teacher works tirelessly to gather instruments, find music, support practice and plan concerts. It requires never-ending patience and dedication. She also organizes a trip for our grade 8 band students every year, so they can celebrate their hard work and accomplishments.
I don’t know if many of you have heard beginning band students in September or have stood in a room full of young band students warming up anticipating a concert. Let me tell you it is not pretty! I usually have to hover half in the hallway because I cannot stand the noise level and confusion. Band and music teachers take this in their stride on a daily basis.
Our music teacher provides many creative musical opportunities for all of our students. She runs a choir and our students were able to sing both at Creighton Lodge and the local nursing home this past week. They were also able to participate in … and sing at our Remembrance Day Service. Right now she is working long hours coordinating our k-3 annual Christmas concert which will take place this coming week. It is a night of excitement and fun enjoyed by all. Many times a week as I am walking around our school, I witness students so excited because they are off to music class.
It can be hard to teach on the fringe. I do it myself, and it can be difficult at times to see the importance of the “extra” subjects when we are lining them up against math, English Language Arts, Science and Social Studies.
We all know that everything we teach is important, but when it comes to music education, I think it is time to give credit where credit is due.
Now that we have the ability to study brain neurology there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that music affects our development and functioning in a variety of ways such as:
- Reading and literacy skills
- Spatial-temporal reasoning
- Mathematic abilities
- Emotional intelligence
In fact, music is one of the few activities that involves the whole brain.
The thing I find a bit frustrating is, despite the growing body of evidence that supports music and arts programs, they are often the first things to be cut off the list when money is tight and resources are limited. Band and music are expensive programs to offer because they require specialized equipment and travel is often necessary, but the benefits to all areas of student development cannot be argued.
I hope that our students and parents will continue to support our band program understanding the short and long-term benefits of playing a musical instrument. The school division requires a minimum number of students to be in a unit of instruction. I worry sometimes that our numbers will fall below those minimums and we will not longer be able to offer our students such a unique and wonderful opportunity.
When I was attending school I did not have the option to participate in a band program. I think I missed out on something very important and valuable. I am grateful that my son was able to learn to play a trumpet and have the experience of playing in a band. I realize that it will probably not be something he carries throughout his life, but the benefits of the experience will be long-lasting.
I hope that before we dismiss supporting the band and music programs in our schools that we will take a moment and consider that what we are giving up is much more than “just another class.”