July 1, 2018

Kids Making Music is Kids Creating Culture

While doing some last minute Christmas shopping last December, I was struck by how many children’s toys on the shelves are essentially TV or tablet screens. Lights flash, sounds blare, and pieces move, but they ultimately make children just observers of spectacle. Our kids don’t interact with toys like these — they don’t even use imagination with them — they simply consume them passively. And that passive consumption denies children opportunities to grow, learn, and be excited.

Learning to play music, on the other hand, is the ultimate active activity, and My Music Starts Here brings that opportunity into the convenience of your own home.

Musical Study Empowers Children

Society doesn’t always take children particularly seriously. Sure, we care about their safety and education, and we manufacture products to be purchased in their name, but we often don’t give their thoughts, abilities, and talents the level of attention we should. Given the opportunity, our kids can be not only part of society and culture but active contributors to it. Music helps them bring more of their hearts and minds to the world, and that benefits all of us.

After all, we live our lives in hi-fidelity surround sound. The songs and compositions that mean the most to us become indelible parts of who we are as individuals and families. In our home, Christmas wouldn’t feel like Christmas without Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. What would a Star Warsmovie be without John Williams’ score? Fourth of July fireworks (or Looney Tunes, for that matter) without The William Tell Overture? What would an average high school football or basketball match be without the bleachers resounding with stomps to Queen’s mantra We will, we will, rock you? Lame is what they would be. Lame, and a whole lot less fun.

Songs bridge divides between people and give our individual lives the sound of lives lived together. When making music, our kids become a part of that.

When your son draws a bow across a string playing Nutcracker Suite, he knows he is playing a piece of music performed for generations, one that most people in his community know well. When your daughter rips a Queen guitar solo, with memories of those collective foot stomps in the gymnasium, she knows that she is taking her place in the ranks of the impossibly cool Rock n Roll.

Think of the power that gives our kids.

Think of how it makes them participants in a community.

Child Music Students Grow into Strong, Brave Adults

We know that music-making increases the synaptic pathways in the human brain, increasing the amount of information that can be processed and the speed at which that information travels. It also increases memory and focus, as well as language skills. That translates into results that make us happy as parents: better communication skills, test scores, grades on report cards, social skills, and future job opportunities.

But music-making simultaneously increases opportunities for kids to succeed doing what they want (which, of course, also makes us happy). When our littlest ones first learn to tie their shoes, we sing their praises, and then they charge off to face the day full of confidence.

When the older siblings successfully play a song on a piano or cello or trumpet, they too face the day with a strong sense of confidence. Studies showthat young musicians gain and preserve self-respect when they get feedback from their musical peers and teachers. They also learn to accept constructive criticism and put it to good use, and the kind of self-assessment that comes with learning an instrument teaches kids perseverance.

As parents, we are always on the lookout for ways our children can feel strong and brave, and playing music is an exceptionally beneficial way to do exactly that.

Because we know that feeling strong and brave isn’t just about feelings. Learning an instrument allows our kids to keep a human tradition of music making alive and well, but it also — by helping their brains grow stronger and more clever — increases their abilities to make all sorts of non-musical contributions, too. Albert Einstein said, “I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music,” and in The Republic, Plato writes, Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other.”

A student’s contribution to the musical tradition rarely stops there. Your daughter who develops a passion for coding, for example, will be more creative and precise for having studied piano as a child (remember that window of neural plasticity!). Your son with a knack for business or diplomacy will have stronger interpersonal and language skills for having studied trumpet.

Child Music Students Create Culture

Ultimately, though, you probably aren’t thinking about astrophysics or the foundations of Western thought when you’re thinking of holiday or birthday presents. You’re thinking of your children. And My Music Starts Here is on a mission to be the antidote to those passivity-inducing, flashing, chirping screens. When your kids are introduced to playing an instrument, they don’t just consume culture. They create it.

And that is a powerful lesson. What if every child grew up knowing that what she or he made — what came from their heart and mind — was valued and a vital part of the culture that they share with their family, classmates, peers, and neighbors? What if they all had firsthand experience in positively affecting the world now by contributing to the soundtrack that accompanies our lives from the car to the grocery to the airport to the job and on and on? That kind of empowerment is a rare thing for anybody (let alone a young person) to experience.

Join us at My Music Starts Here.

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