Why I Stand Up For Music: A Success Story

This post has really been a long time coming. I’ve toyed with the idea but was uncomfortable for a while with posting it online and never really knew how to word it until deciding to just start getting it on the page. Do you know why this blog is called “Day in the Life of a Backwards Musical Mind? Well today, I’m finally going to tell you.

Did you know?

Children who study a musical instrument are more likely to excel in all of their studies, work better in teams, have enhanced critical thinking skills, stay in school, and pursue further education.

Elementary age children who are involved in music lessons show greater brain development and memory improvement within a year than children who receive no musical training.

Learning and mastering a musical instrument improves the way the brain breaks down and understands human language, making music students more apt to pick up a second language.

When growing up I tended to get really frustrated in school because I couldn’t pick up concepts as well as the other students. The teacher would be moving on to the next thing and I would still be trying to figure out what was still in front of me. I had trouble wearing certain clothes, and even eating certain foods, I also had a lot of trouble in sports finding it hard to even catch a ball. When I was old enough it was finally revealed to me I had slow processing issues, a sensory disfunction (still can’t wear certain clothes or eat certain foods) and little fine motor control. Now, one would think that with all these obstacles put in my way it would be a little detrimental to my every day life, but with involved parents like my Dad who would work a full day and yet still have time to come home and play catch with his little girl before dinner, or my Mom who would sit down with me for hours to get my homework done I managed to make it through better than before.

What really began to make a difference in my life is when I was “forced” by my Mom to begin taking a musical instrument in forth grade. I use the term “forced” very loosely. It was more of “You want to play an instrument? Flute or Clarinet, 2 years minimum and if you want to continue great, if not I’ll understand.” Almost 15 years later my flute is still being played and I have music as another reason to thank for learning how to adapt and overcome obstacles I faced early on in my life.

Walking into music I was on a level playing field.

    In the classroom I might have been behind, but in music I was on a level playing field. It was a place I could excel if I really tried. In subjects such as Math or even Science you have a specific way to think about how to solve a problem, a lot of the time I would get stuck on a math problem because I had problems processing the original way to solve it so I tried to think of a different way..not all the time it would be correct. Overall subjects like math and science just became frustrating . In music, I could think of 500 different ways to play or listen to a piece and they could all be right.

  Music plays an important role in language. Similar areas of the brain are activated when listening to or playing music and speaking or processing language.  (http://scienceblogs.com/cognitivedaily/2008/06/19/does-music-help-us-learn-langu/ )

    Learning how to read and play music lead to helping my brain process language. I found the more I practiced my instruments and sang, the faster my brain adapted to processing conversations I would have and reading words on the page. It became a way to speed up those parts of my brain. I eventually was able to take the ways I read music and bring them over into other areas of my life to begin to adapt and overcome. I still can read a sheet of music faster than I can read a page in a book.

      Music also gave me a new found confidence which lead to so many other changes in my life.

  •       Music is unpredictable, while being use to comfortable surroundings knowing what was going to come next was all good. I began to be ok with making mistakes and throwing myself into uncomfortable surroundings. I still get nervous at certain new adventures but now know being uncomfortable is ok and things will become easier the second time around.
  •       Playing an instrument helped improve my fine motor control. The more I practiced my flute the better my fine motor skills became. It made me use my smaller muscles such as tongue and fingers on a regular basis. I remember going to PT, OT, and all the other Ts out there, playing an instrument was the best therapy.
  •   It helped me to persevere. When I didn’t get the song the first time I played it over and over again until I got it right, and that quality carried over into other parts of my life.
  •       And after a busy day, with so many insecurities, unprocessed things, and stress over uncomfortable situations. Coming home and closing the door to just sit and play provided needed solace to clear the things bouncing off in the white padded walls in my head.

  Music helped me overcome and adapt, it helped me grow up. When I began to study music education in college I had trouble getting through certain classes. All I had to do was remember what I had to do to get there and that’s all I needed to get through. Now as a music educator I find myself seeing the same qualities I had when I was younger in some of my students and remember how hard it was for me and how music was that relief, that strength I could build my confidence on. It allows me to relate and always have hope even for the tough ones.  With technology in the mix, it not only helps my students, but turns my weaknesses I still have and into my strengths.

     I stand up for music in the schools because it gave me so much. It pushed me over obstacles that were miles high, and showed me I could excel if I pushed myself. I’ve gotten so far so early in my life because of it and know there are so many students out there who can benefit from it just like I did. No matter what twists and turns my life will bring, I will always come back to music. Just like I stand up for it, it stands up for me.

What makes you stand up for music? What’s your story?


Receiving the TI:ME Teacher of the Year award from the amazing Amy Burns

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