Encouraging Your Child's Musical Education at TAS

By Lindsey Kundel, Director of Communications

There are many reasons to encourage your child to join the middle school music program, including the fact that it's just plain fun. But, perhaps more importantly, did you know that learning about music and being part of the larger musical community can reap lifelong benefits? 

Here are a few reasons why we hope your child considers joining:

1. Improved social skills. One of the biggest positive connections your child can make is those with other musically-minded students, including lifelong friendships.

2. Learning teamwork. Teamwork isn't just for athletics. When your child joins the orchestra, they become part of a functioning team with clear goals.

3. Developing a sense of personal responsibility. Your child will need to take care of their instrument - and learn their part in the score. A child will learn to treat their instrument with respect because their treatment has a direct impact on their instrument's sound.

4. Improved cognitive skills. Learning to read music and making an instrument do what your child wants it to do benefits their eye-hand coordination as well as increased cognitive skills including concentration and visual recognition.

5. Joy! Most people who participate in musical activities reap a lifetime of benefits as they get older, including the joy that you can find when relaxing and appreciating music.

The TAS music teachers also have a number of reasons that they would like to share with our parents and students, reasons that are a bit more specific to our school's program instead of music education generally.

According to Mr. Stephen Abernethy, the department chair for KA-12 music performing arts, his favorite part of the music program at TAS is the depth and breadth of the opportunities that TAS provides. "There is an expectation of excellence," says Abernethy, "and we have the fullest support of the administration, students, and parent community to aim for the best possible musical and artistic outcomes for all students, allowing each one of them every opportunity for artistic expression and creativity."

Middle school choral director (and TAS alumna) Betty Chang echoes a similar sentiment about choice: "I love that the TAS music program is robust and offers choices to our student body as early as third grade," said Chang. "Through different music classes offered, students connect outwardly with our community and worldwide; as well as inwardly by being reflective, empathetic, and sensitive in our music-making process. In addition, music brings together different disciplines: math, science, history, languages, politics, and most importantly, our well-being. Perhaps this is why music plays an integral  part of our lives, no matter our age."

 

Lower school music teacher Marissa Brits used the same word - choice - to describe why she loves to work and teach at TAS, describing the TAS music program as offering amazing choices to students. Whether you are interested in choir, band, strings, orchestra, music technology, musical theater, or some combination of all of them, TAS provides students with "the opportunity to [not only] try different options [but to also] excel in that specific area."

Abernethy also shared the wisdom of the late great Maestro Richard Gill in his responses, quoting an essay by Gill titled "Music for Children." TAS was lucky to welcome Maestro Gill as an artist in residence for several years prior to his passing.

In the essay, "Music for Children" (and in a corresponding TED Talk), the conductor argued that music education should be a fundamental right of all children. Gill said that music education has both intrinsic and extrinsic benefits, explaining that "music has to be heard to be comprehended," something which requires listeners to learn the "highest forms of listening…[and] concentration," which ultimately leads to the "highest forms of thinking." 

In this same essay, Gill also explained that because music has been and remains a "powerful form of human communication" across many different cultures and societies, denying a child a music education denies them the opportunity to engage in this part of the human experience. 

In fact, in his TED Talk, Gill goes so far as to suggest that singing is a major component of many cultures' educational programs, even those without strong traditions of formal music programs: "Singing is how we teach children to be literate, to read and write," said Gill. "Through singing is how we teach children to analyze."

Tiger musicians! What did we miss? What are your top reasons for encouraging younger Tigers to join musical programs while at TAS?

If you're anything like Maestro Gill, you'll agree with us that music is worth teaching for its own sake. Yes, there are many benefits, including those listed above and by our teachers. But, as Maestro Gill put it succinctly: "Music is worth teaching because it is good. It is worth teaching because it is unique. And it is worth teaching because it empowers children spectacularly."

Want to find out more about the benefits of a music education program? Here are a few resources provided by our TAS music teachers to help you as you consider. We hope to see you in our classrooms, stages, risers, and practice rooms soon!