Most of us believe deeply in the power of music and want our children to enjoy music in their lives in one way or another. The benefits of music study are so well publicized now that a higher percentage of parents are giving their children music lessons than ever before – and for good reason: Music has already been shown to have a positive impact on so many areas of development and new studies touting its benefits seem to come out nearly every month.
But is that all music is? Just another tool to get ahead in never-ending race to be the most advanced kid in class?
Whatever happened to making music because it is beautiful, or because it brings meaning to a special event or to enjoy the company of a few a good friends?
Or because it connects us to who we are as a people?
One of the most powerful memories of my childhood is that of attending summer music camps with other kids my age. Spending 3-8 hours a day working out our favorite songs, learning music from other cultures, being exposed to new ideas about how to improvise or compose – all of these things left an indelible mark on my personality not just because they were beneficial, but because I was enjoying learning them in the company of kids my own age.
I can also remember the excitement of learning to play music from cultures completely foreign to mine and knowing that I was learning something powerful and indescribable about that culture that I could not get from books.
As a music teacher and academy director, I want each of my students to draw on the power of their own musical heritage while also broadening their musical tastes. This is why we ask every student who signs up for lessons at Orpheus Academy of Music if there is any cultural and personal interests in music that we should consider when teaching them. This is why all our classes are based on “real music” from around the world, rather than watered-down “teaching tunes.” Most importantly, it is why our students love music so much and remain dedicated over such a long period of time: Children don’t quit an activity that connects them to their world in a meaningful way.
Whatever your background or musical interest, I hope you will give your child the gift of learning music in a manner that both deepens their experience of life and connects them to their peers and their culture.
Dr. Klondike Steadman is co-founder (along with his wife, Wendy) of Orpheus Academy of Music.
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