I grew up with my dad playing drums to jazz greats. We used the record player every day; Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Dave Brubeck, Erroll Garner, Lena Horne filled our house with music.My husband, Ralf, was blessed with a mother who sang through every chore, played piano and guitar and even a little zither.Our parents gave us the gift of music.We own drums and guitars. Our little house is the abode of psalteries, a couple of wind instruments and an upright piano. We’ve owned castanets and zills, kazoos and oodoos.When kids come to our house, we hand them something to shake, rattle or roll.We hoped to hand on our love for music to our son, Erik. We gave him old pots to bang on when he was a toddler. Not much later, he graduated to real instruments. And we sang: songs from old musicals, silly kids’ ditties, prayers.He started studying piano when he was 5.Erik never took summers off from lessons or practice. Any time he wanted a musical instrument, he got it. We gently insisted that he keep learning and playing when he got to rough patches. It was one of very few things we did insist on.When Erik was 12, he asked for an accordion and taught himself to play. While he was at college at UNC Chapel Hill, he sometimes played on Franklin Street on his own time. The money passers-by gave him went to breast cancer research. For many years, he played keyboard, accordion and even darbouka for religious services for our congregation, Temple Or Olam.What does music give us?Research suggests that music students have larger vocabularies and higher IQs. They perform better on standardized English and math tests, earn better grades and have higher high school graduation rates. Studies have indicated that students who participate in music groups at school report significantly lower use of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs.We are prepared to take our children to baseball, soccer and basketball practices and swim lessons. Certainly, athletic training is a significant part of a child’s education, though I often long for a simpler way to achieve that goal than driving kids hither and yon in frantic efforts to get them to exercise. When I was a kid, I went outside and played everything from Red Rover to touch football with the kids in our neighborhood. Easy, fun and stress-free for our parents.Why are we so unwilling to invest energy in our kids’ musical education? Why do parents give their kids piano lessons during the school year and let everything drop from June to August? Why is music education a mere afterthought when the benefits are so great?One of my congregants died July 2. She loved to sing certain prayers. In her last weeks, she still tried to sing with me. Her body was failing, but her soul was still responding to the words and melodies she knows. Music can take us to heights of emotion and still our unease and our fear. It can sweeten our sorrow and fill us with joy.It is a great gift to give your child.
Friday, Jul. 05, 2013
Music: A great gift for your child
Barbara Thiede is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Barbara? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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