On the keyboard of an ornately sculpted upright piano tucked into a corner of my tiny farmhouse, I labored over the requisite piano lesson scales I so desperately hated. Perched on a three-legged swivel stool that bored a hole in my bottom, I ran my seven-year-old fingers over the truly IVORY keys (as in the color as well as the compound) every afternoon after school. Now don’t get me wrong, I wanted to PLAY the piano. I wanted to play SONGS on the piano. I did not particularly want to perform the necessary daily drudgery of what was required to meet that ambitious goal.
But I come from a musical mother whose family consisted of quartets and trios and keyboardists so there was an expectation that was to be fulfilled. And despite those late afternoons wishing I could be outside on my swing rather than plunking the keys of my grandmother’s most cherished piece of furniture, I, too, realized early on that I loved making music.
I feel sure most musicians do it for the love of it. But there are also some verifiable reasons that arts and music should be part of every child’s educational curriculum. Studies show that students who take four years of arts education have an average SAT score that is 98 points higher than those who took half a year or less. Elementary schools with art programs show a 23% increase in math scores and a 15% increase in reading scores. These stats are a powerful testament to the positive impact art education can have on students’ academic performance. Not only that, similar studies show that 46% of youth who participated in the arts for two hours a week were less likely to engage in risky behavior. This is a striking reminder of the importance of art education in not only supporting academic success but also in shaping the lives of young people and keeping them safe.
From the second grade through high school, I parlayed the scales into ultimate performances for my high school and church choirs as well as other community affairs where I could bring the magic of music alive. And though it may sound a tiny bit macabre, my teenage job was to provide organ music for the local funeral home. To be honest, it was a very meaningful way for me to provide some small element of solace to families I generally knew since I grew up in a town of about 300 people. So, it was less of a job and more of a personal contribution to friends and family.
Music moves us. It brings us to tears. It makes us feel joyful. It encourages toe-tapping and finger-snapping. It colors our world in a way nothing else really can. And hey, it even makes us smarter!
I, for one, want the days of my LIFE to be filled with the sound of music.