"Music education opens doors that help children pass from school into the world around them – a world of work, culture, intellectual activity, and human involvement. The future of our nation depends on providing our children with a complete education that includes music."
Gerald Ford, Former President of the United States

I was asked in an interview recently: "What impact does music have on children?" I duly rattled off a lot of the known facts about how music engages both hemispheres of the brain and how studies have shown that children who are involved in music education and practical music making perform better in all of their academic studies. These facts are now known, and a quick google search can find many reports that support this. However, it got me thinking about other, less quantifiable impacts that music has on humans as they develop, grow, learn, change and adapt to their world throughout their life. Music is, after all, a life long relationship and everyone has their own relational dynamic, which describes the way they interact with music. For some people like myself, who realise very early that music is going to be an all-consuming, irresistible force that I have no choice but to submit to, that relationship has defined most aspects of what I do and filled me with a drive and passion to share music with others. My mind, my imagination and even my dreams will not leave music alone! But for others, their lifelong relationship with music is subtler, important nonetheless, but not quite as in your face as my reality.

When I read the quote above from Gerald Ford, I started thinking more deeply about the role and function of music in people's lives, both overt and hidden and about how music plays a part at key transition points in life. The notion that music has an important role to play in assisting students to transition from their school life into their adult life is an interesting one. Whether you have been a student of music or not, music is always there, helping you make sense of the world at a time of immense change. In fact, at all of the key points in a person's life, music has its role. Every time a birthday rolls around, music is usually an integral part of the celebration – and notice how the musical choices can change so completely from year to year. Three years may not seem a long time, but I can guarantee you that the music chosen for an 11 year olds birthday party will be quite different to that chosen for a 14 year olds party! Much can be learned about the way a growing child is relating to their world from the music that they choose as their life soundtrack. What do the musical choices made at graduation say about the hopes and aspiration of young people for the future? I think President Ford's quote goes much deeper than this. Intrinsically, music is by and large about listening, reflecting and communicating thoughts, ideas and feelings. A positive music education offers students of any age the opportunity to collaborate and communicate in ways that are unique to music. The ability to interpret, to make decisions, to reflect and to explore are skills all found embedded in music and music education. It is no surprise therefor, that both formal and informal exposure to music has such a powerful impact on the development of the whole person particularly as they transition their way through life. And the best thing about music is that it is the lifelong gift that keeps on giving! You are never too old to get involved in making music and enjoying music. There are no limits to the possibilities available to you and there are no blocks to exploring music, other than those that you put in front of yourself. So you have never learnt to read music! So what?! So someone told you when you were eight that you had a terrible voice! So what?! It doesn't mean you can't play or sing or explore or enjoy music on your terms. Music is for you and is already a part of your life – it has always been travelling with you. You don't need to have been blessed by the magical music fairy with this odd thing called "talent" in order to enjoy and participate in music!

At the GRC, we believe that music is for everyone and our mission is to offer many ways for people to interact with music, through lessons, ensembles, concerts and workshops. Call us now on 4821 8833 to find new ways to make music meaningful!

21 June 2012

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