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Shannon Booth

Music Advocacy The arts integrate all of us. Jazz musician Wynton Marsalis could not have brought to terms a better statement for why music programs are essential in education. Music is a universal language that we all understand. In providing music education within our schools, we are not only fostering musicianship, we are nourishing the growth of exceptional human beings. The benefits of music education span across multi-curricula as the underlying foundations taught in music are relatable non-musical life-long skills. For 21st century learners, it is expected that as educators we need to go beyond the standard school curriculum and teach our students 21st century skills: creativity and innovation, collaboration, leadership, lifelong learning, self direction and personal management. Many of these 21st century skills are evident and developed within the music classroom. If as educators our goal is to help students become successful human beings, it is essential to focus on the knowledge, skills and attitudes that they bring to our classrooms. Music education fosters students individuality and creative talents and in turn, we teach students to utilize and transfer the benefits gained through the classroom to everyday life. What do we teach? We teach Ensemble; a group of musicians who perform together; or in more general terms, being part of a group or team. When one member of a team doesnt show up, the entire team is let down. This message is parallel in an ensemble: when one member doesnt do their part to contribute, the ensemble suffers. This message teaches students to develop a sense of responsibility, self-direction and personal management in order to be successful members of the ensemble; or in the big picture, society. In 2010, University College of London performed a study using neuro-imaging that made the common expression two heads work better than one a fact. If two heads work better than one and the popularity of group work within classrooms is thriving, then ultimately we should be fostering much more competent

Shannon Booth

students. Group work fits comfortably into the music classroom as teaching ensemble literally means teaching how to work in a group. This skill enables students for an easier transition into future careers as the majority of professions promote and utilize group work. What do we teach? We teach Timing; the ability to "keep time" and how to successfully move through a piece of music within a specific time signature. In other words, we teach time management. Students learn to manage the amount of time needed to practice their instrument in relation to other equally important homework; students learn to set SMART goals in the music classroom that can be transferred to other scholarly and personal goals. How can one meet work deadlines, school deadlines, fit social, academic and athletic activities into their life if they dont have time management skills? Time management is one of the most beneficial skills that an individual can possess; a skill that if learned early and accurately, students will carry with them for life and in personal and professional future endeavours. What do we teach? We teach Balance; playing or singing together in such a way that each part maintains its relative importance within the context of that piece. We teach students that their individual part and instrument is important in the blend in the ensemble. We teach students that we are one band, one sound and that every unique member of the ensemble is what creates our positive classroom community. Students in the music classroom learn to be confident in their abilities, but also to be humble. Learning balance in the classroom teaches students to know when it is appropriate to stand out and make themselves heard, and when to step back and blend in. What do we teach? We teach students to use their brain. According to Canadian Geographic, there are few activities that require more of the brain than playing music. It uses feedback systems that take in information through the auditory cortex and allow the performer to

Shannon Booth

adjust their playing. The visual cortex is activated by reading the score; the parietal lobe is involved in determining finger positions; the motor cortex helps control body movements; the sensory cortex is stimulated with each touch of the instrument; the frontal lobe plans and coordinates the overall activity and the cerebellum helps create integrated movements. Playing an instrument is a multisensory motor experience. Reading musical symbols and translating them into sequential motor activity [playing an instrument] depend on multisensory feedback; developing fine motor skills along with metric precision; memorizing long musical passages; and improvising within given parameters. Evidently if we want students engaged in classes where their brain is working and stimulated, a music classroom is a highly beneficial solution. With all of the benefits associated with music education, it is vital that it be kept within the schools. Due to the broad range of socio-economic statuses within schools, many families are unable to afford for their children to attend private lessons through music conservatories. Students should not miss out on opportunities to participate in music due to circumstances that are out of their controlif as educators it is our job to provide ample opportunities for students to learn, grow and find themselves, it is our duty to provide them with the opportunity to gain a music education. So, what do we teach? We dont just teach music, we teach life; how to be responsible, self-motivated, balanced members of society. We teach students to be creative, to be proud of their abilities and to be beneficial human beings in the 21sts century. To conclude, I want to leave you with a quote from John Skyes, the President of VH1 Save the Music Foundation for improving the quality of education in Americas public schools. In every successful businessthere is one budget line that never gets cut. Its called Product Development and its the key to any companys future growth. Music education is critical to the product development of this nations most important resource our children.