6 Life Lessons of Music, Singing and Band

Man With Musical HairMusic touches us, literally, cascading vibrations from our instruments and massaging meaning into the neuroreceptors of our brains. Music also touches us figuratively, bringing us together and helping us bond. Anyone who’s learned to play an instrument or sung in a choir understands this intuitively. Yet how can booster club leaders illuminate this value in the community and rally their support?

One answer: put on lots and lots of concerts with large audiences. In an age when digital consumers listen to music out of 1/4 inch speakers in their cellphones, a live performance will literally rock their sound sensors. In order to fundraise, though, we must articulate the benefits of playing music, and name the tangible value generated for choir or band participants. We put together this list to get you started. Hopefully, readers can help us refine this post as a concise tool for music educators and booster club officers.

  1. Group bonding and participation: playing music with others generates oxytocin, a chemical in the brain strongly associated with love. As writer Stacy Horn puts it, “[group singing] takes something incredibly intimate, a sound that begins inside you, shares it with a roomful of people.” Practicing music as a group prepares young people for a lifetime of collaboration. Singing in a choir or playing in a band helps ground so many adult lives, whether it’s in a quiet church, a tinny garage,  or the boisterous stage of a local pub.
  2. Reduced stress: those sounds reverberating inside you also soothe your soul. A psychology study at McGill University found that listening to and playing music significantly lowered cortisone levels, the body’s main stress hormone. Researchers have also found that music improves the immune system. The study’s authors went as far as to recommend prescribing music playing and listening to certain classes of hospital patients. Music isn’t just fun, it’s preventative medicine!
  3. Creative process: music opens new possibilities  in the creative process. Playing an instrument is like wrestling with a puzzle or writing an elegant proof, except that it fully engages your body as well. Music also allows students to enmesh their work with other mediums. With the aid of technology, students can bring recordings of their music into videos and digital remixes, allowing them to tie the computing world with the analog one.
  4. Increased confidence: public performance builds confidence. It makes students confront fears and social anxiety. Students who start out shy on stage quickly discover the social benefits of performing for others: post-show compliments, increased social visibility, and a sense of satisfaction. They also conquer their initial fears. Once you’ve marched or strummed or drummed in front of 300 strangers, interviews with college admissions officers and employers can’t seem that intimidating.
  5. Language development: scientific research indicates that music supports language development. Music stimulates and strengthens the parts of the brain connected to language centers, helping struggling readers in the earlier grades. Language and music also support each other in the other direction as well. Improving conversation and listening skills builds a musician’s capacity to excel.
  6. Discipline: a blog post by Penny Ray reminded us of this life lesson. Penny is a marching band mom, and she notes that when you’re in band, you’re constantly learning new music, new drills, and the interminable lengths of serious rehearsals. This discipline also extends to solo performers. Whether you’re playing alone or in a group, there’s no way to guess or b.s. your way through a test. A band director will always know if you’ve practiced. Also, performing for friends drives a desire for excellence that transcends grades, teachers, and curricula. Notes don’t lie. In short, music nurtures both internal and external discipline, and that’s key for forging study habits, work habits, and good parenting.

MusicArticulating the benefits of extracurricular activities is a goal of this blog and, more specifically, the main subject of a few posts we’ve written about recently. So far in the Life Lessons Series we’ve covered Sports and Theater. Now that we’ve written about music and singing and band, what should we cover next?

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