1. Music helped me build structure and discipline
Learning a musical instrument requires patience and dedication. When I first started playing the flute in fifth grade, it took me close to a week to be able to produce a consistent sound. After that, whenever my band director Mr. Wadman handed out a new piece of music, I had to set aside time to practice it. Whenever the Broward County Solo and Ensemble Festival approached each year, I devoted countless hours to learning my pieces. Because of my music education, I learned how to create structure and discipline myself to accomplish something.
2. Music gave me the motivation to set goals
Music provided so many situations - both in and out of school - for me to learn to set goals and achieve them. Beginning in seventh grade, I participated in the Broward County Solo and Ensemble Festival each February. In seventh and eighth grades, I received a Superior on my solos. In ninth grade, however, I received only an Excellent. Although this frustrated me at first, I used the experience as motivation. For tenth grade, I decided I was going to play an even harder solo, perform it from memory, and get a Superior. And that's exactly what happened.
3. Music promoted self-expression
Music has always given me a platform to express myself. Whether I'm feeling joyful, calm, or nostalgic, I've found a piece of music that conveys that emotion in a more powerful way than words could alone.
In college, I began composing more. Whenever I needed to console myself after a heartbreak, I always found comfort in writing a song. In April of this year, there was another earthquake in Sichuan Province, China, the region that was still recovering from the devastating earthquake of 2008. In response to this tragedy, I composed a solo flute piece called "Sketches" and performed it at a benefit concert to raise funds to aid the families in Sichuan Province.
4. Music provided me with a common language
I'm a music consultant in Broward and Palm Beach County Schools, and I've heard one of the middle school band directors tell his students, "When you play an instrument and it comes time for you to start high school, you'll find that you already have a group of friends in the band." Music gave me a common language that I could use to communicate with musicians wherever I went. A few years ago, I took a position teaching English to college students in Northeast China. When I first arrived, I didn't know anyone. Very quickly, though, I made friends with another English teacher when I found out that we were both music majors in college. Soon afterward, I met a French teacher and Japanese teacher who were also musicians, and we started writing songs together. When I look back on my experience in China, what stands out the most are the friendships I made with these teachers.
When I look back on my schooling, one of the things I'm most thankful for is my parents' commitment to music education. Their time, dedication, and resources have positively shaped my life today. So, as you consider which activities to enroll your child in this school year, I strongly urge you to invest in music lessons. The benefits of music education are rich and will last a lifetime.