Continuous Improvement ≠ Transformational Innovation (or, 5 Things We Must Do To Improve Education) – Kids Need to Play a Musical Instrument: Part 2 of 5

A few years ago, I met a gentleman who told me he played in a band for 19 years, and made 3 records.  He loves music, and is grateful to his dad for “making” him learn a musical instrument – even though when he was young, he hated it…especially when his friends were outside playing baseball and street hockey.  Then, at some point, he realized he loved it, and the joy experienced from getting together with friends and making music was an extraordinary experience.  He also realized being a musician made it easier to meet others, especially other musicians, creating an instant common ground.

I also remember an incident where a student participated in a summer music camp, and auditioned for one of the lead chairs in the orchestra.  She had played violin from the time she was in middle school, and was 2nd chair in her high school’s orchestral ensemble.  She was a bit upset when she was assigned to 5th chair, and the first 4 chairs were occupied by students who were of Asian heritage.  After she talked with them, though, she realized that these high school students were playing music from the time they could walk, practicing daily, and considering music as a necessary part of their life.  Even though they were all from different high schools , they were all at the top of their class in academic ranking too.

Coincidence?  Current research on the brain and how it reacts to playing music shows that it’s not.  Here’s what’s going on inside the brain when one learns to play a musical instrument, according to neuroscientists.  Watch this: 

Watch the video at the above link.  Then, consider the irony of your local school or school district trying to improve academic performance while cutting specials or activities like orchestra, concert band, marching band, jazz band or percussion ensemble.  Some school district administrators blame it on members of the local school board, who vote for cutting the budget to give tax payers a break.  If this is the case in your school district, and you want to see your community’s children excel, you know what you need to do…especially when school board elections come around.

And before you think that kids need to play simple melodies, their neural pathways have developed to grasp complex melodies and rhythms faster than most adults – which further enhances their complex problem solving.  Here’s proof: