Imagine yourself waking up in the morning to your iHome playing a song from one of your favorite playlists. While you are getting a shower, preparing yourself for the day, you start to sing a song that has been stuck in your head for days. As you are driving to school, your favorite radio station plays a continuous set list of the popular songs by your favorite artist that you enjoy listening to so much. You and your friend both meet up to talk about how many times you both have listened to the new Lady Gaga single. Because of your common interest in music with your best friends, during a free period all you are able to discuss is music and what your favorite songs are. Even while you are leaving school later on that afternoon, your favorite station is playing yet another smash hit. Something that is highly essential to everyday lift must be understood, and utilized, as frequently as possible. The positive effects of instrumental training as well as aural training, in the younger generation, have been widely acclaimed. Therefore, these components to an individual’s development should be carried throughout all levels of secondary education in order to offer a well-rounded artistic and musical appreciation that will be of great aide to the student during their present lives and continuing through later adulthood.
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Out of the fine arts programs, music education is most beneficial to all aspects of an individual’s development and should be made available to students.In order for a student to truly enjoy the value of precise musical training in the secondary levels of education, the several benefits of this specific training must be first established. Music education is a creative outlet for adolescents to be passionate, emotional and heartfelt. Music is a way for students to express themselves, and in a greater focus, the emotional benefits that it provides for them. Many adolescents used music as their creative outlet from the academic and social pressures of middle and high school life along with the added stress and pressure caused by home life and family authority. “Music is an expression of the heart” (Girl, age 15), “Music is awesome! That’s what makes my world go round!” (Girl, age 13), and the shouted message “I LOVE MUSIC. IT’S A WAY TO EXPRESS MYSELF!” (Boy, age 14) were all commentaries taken from essays on music and what it means to the students. (MENC 6).
The overall concept that had emerged was that the art of music education provides students with the freedom to just be who they are, whether that is to be different, be a person they had no idea they could become, to be accepted and feel at ease and stress free in school and through their everyday lives (MENC 7). Students have noted in academic essays that music was a greater source of a get-a-way for them. A typical answer came from a girl who stated “When I am angry or everything seems like it’s spinning out of control, I write a song. It calms me down and gets my feelings out.” As for another student who stated that “The only way for most teenagers to express their angerâ€¦ in a nonviolent way is through music.” Music also can act as a coping mechanism for an adolescent who is dealing with the pressures of society, family life, and the aspects of friendships and social status. Song lyrics are realized as a message that act as a hope, that you do you not need to feel alone because people have experienced the pain and struggles that you are feeling. Students have wrote and explained that music was a great factor of coping for them, and without it being present in their struggles, it would not of been possible to endure the struggles and obstacles of the teenage life.
As well as the emotional benefits which music has to offer to teenagers, it also has social benefits which are essential for social interaction and influence of peer pressure.”Secondary students, who participated in band or orchestra, reported the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances (alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs.) (CMW 1). On the same side, the MENC newsletter also stated that “Students spoke of music’s social benefits in relation to its function as a distraction from involvement in spurious activity such as drugs, alcohol, smoking (cigarettes), gang life, and promiscuous sex-in their own lives or in the lives of adolescents in general.”(MENC 8). Music has a strong influence on teenagers and also has the ability to deter teenagers from suicidal tendencies, by allowing the singers and instrumentalists meaning in their young lives. Being involved in orchestra, band or even choir, provides students with the means of interacting and meeting new people, along with creating new and lasting friendships. Being involved in musical ensembles allows a person to step outside their comfort zone and interact with new people. It also enables a student to feel secure within the group. Images of families have been chosen to illustrate this feeling of security that they were experience as the result of taking part in the musical ensembles at their school including: band, orchestra or choir.
Along with the numerous benefits that music provides an adolescent with, it also has an impact on how a person’s intelligence and development is affected. The question of “Can music make us more intelligent,” is in the process of being explored in a series of ongoing experiments under the supervision of Frances Rauscher of the University of California, Irvine. In 1993, it was noted that, in contrast to students who merely sat in silence or listened to relaxation instructions, thirty six college students who listened to only ten minutes of Mozart’s “Piano Sonata K.448” successively experienced a substantial growth in their spatial IQ scores. Another experiment was conducted later on this year, using seventy nine students and additional test situations, which confirmed that the Mozart Effect is without a doubt a real phenomenon. Last year, a pilot study was conducted by a group of researchers where a group of three year old children were given music training, whether it was singing or keyboard lessons. The scores of each individual child improved significantly on the Objects Assembly Task, which was a section of the Weschler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence-Revised that could measure the spatial reasoning of a child. According to the results which were found at the American Psychological Association’s annual convention, it was reported that the results of a follow-up experiment which concluded that the spatial reasoning performance of nineteen preschool children who received eighteen months of music lessons greatly exceeded that of a comparable group of fifteen preschool children who did not receive music lessons (Rauscher 1). Because it draws on various attributes, music develops flexibility in thinking. Music training is a very effective way, not only to boost the conceptual-holistic-creative thinking process, but to also assist in the melding and merging of the mind’s capabilities. Although most musical capabilities seem to be represented initially in the right hemisphere of the brain, as a person becomes more skilled, capabilities that were stored in the right hemisphere are located increasingly in the left. (Ponter 112).
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Music is a very noticeable asset in the lives of the youth, and they appreciate its effectiveness in leading the course of their daily routines, along with their long-term hopes and dreams. During a free-flow of ideas, students in American secondary school wrote into their essays their individual reflections of music’s roles and meanings for them in their academic studies at school and in their involvement beyond school, not only as performers but as composers and listeners as well. (MENC 11). Some of these students wrote with very cultured vocabulary, while other individuals wrote as if they were talking to a friend through an informal chat application. Each student described music as a knowledge area and an enormous set of skills that bring together their notational literacy, listening awareness, motor ability, eye-hand coordination, and rational hold of music’s meaning in the past and in society. (MENC 11). The performance skills of instrumental and vocal nature, were described as goals to be attained by musical study, and the sense of achievement and superiority that music education had given students, allowed them to progress their skills while performing a various range of musical repertoire and committing to the score, not only melodically but stylistically as well. According to essays that were conducted in American secondary schools, students desire more study of their specified area that is pertinent to their needs, interests, and appropriate rehearsal spaces. However, a few of the same students also wrote negatively about their emotions, while some spoke passionately of their needs of more musical study in school, lack of proper rehearsal space, appropriate practice time, and instruments that could be made available for use.
Students are highly particular when it comes to the extracurricular activities which they are involved with. Some students prefer to be involved with things that are beneficial to them and not just activities that are not going to help them in their lives. Some of these students are on the fence of the schools music programs, having once participated in various instrumental and vocal ensembles, but dropped them, would prefer to have curricular developments in the study of popular music styles, including rock or pop music ensembles which could be taught by music teachers and professional musicians. For these students, the typical jazz ensemble was simply not cutting it for them. “Even within the scope of what should have been an invitation to adolescents to describe the favorable assets of school music programs that should not be ‘BAN-ned,’ these programs may not yet be fully in touch with the needs of a considerable population of young people in secondary schools.” (MENC 11). The lack of student participation in musical ensembles is due to their self-consciousness of being labeled as “band geek.” Most students in high school have this notion in their head that if they play an instrument such as the clarinet or trumpet, they will be labeled by their peers. On the other hand, students do not become involved with musical activities due to the simple fact that the music is not what they would like to be learning. According to the MENC newsletter, it states that “Music should be a mandatory course just like Math, Science, and English, in all schools – not just high schools.” The lack of funding for the arts also has a big portion of influence to what courses are placed into the school’s curriculum. Other clubs and activities such as football, basketball, and cheerleading are given greater quantities of funds which are unfair to music departments which are always being questioned for their purpose.
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