When I was first handed a trumpet in seventh-grade, I hardly expected to be in band for more than a year. I expected to learn how to play the trumpet, pick up a couple of songs, make a few friends, and then quit before high school. All I thought I would learn was the instrument. But now, as a sophomore, four years into band, music education has taught me so much more than I could have imagined.
As an ensemble, students are taught to work as a team. We are taught to blend into our section, and into each other’s sounds, so to create a better, more musical product. While each individual person and part is still valued, band teaches students the importance of being a cohesive unit. The musicality of a piece is not only determined by how strong each person is, but how well we work together.
During marching, this belief is reinforced. While individual talents are honed, the sound and visuals of the band must be together. Through our training as a band, we do not just further our understanding of how to work as a team, but we grow closer together in our struggle.
And while musical education does teach students to work as a team, it also teaches the value of being an individual. Individual sound and talent is praised during concert season. Through a variety of competitions and auditions, a student must practice on their own- and their placement is determined by their practice. This teaches students to manage their time more, as well as teaching them the value of hard work. Through contests like All-Region band and orchestra, students are able to reap the fruits of their efforts. In highly competitive environments like band and orchestra, only the best can succeed. Few gain their title as the best from just natural talent; improvement can only be achieved through practice.
Music education also provides a strong creative outlet for students. In a world where STEM is being repeatedly prioritized over the arts, it is important for students to have a way to express themselves. According to a study provided by the American Journal of Public Health doing creative activities can contribute to reducing stress, depression, and can aid in alleviating chronic illness. Music education is one of the easiest ways to express creativity. Instruments and music are often provided by the school, and those who are unable to pay for instruments are often given other methods or scholarships in order to be able to play.
The argument will always be made that music education is not important because it isn’t useful. Musical studies aren’t prioritized because the American college system often places STEM over music when considering students for admittance. It is also frequently believed that music education is only important for music majors or those going into the performing arts.
That being said, music education not only acts as a creative outlet, but it increases students’ performance in non-music classes and with testing. In a study conducted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science students who participated in piano lessons for six months performed 34% better in an IQ test than those who did not. It was also shown that students that have experience in music education or music appreciation also scored higher on the ACT/SAT than those who had no music experience. Music education has more practical effects than most people give it credit for. The benefits of musical experience can aid students with their studies and college admission. And regardless of if a student continues musical studies into college, they make invaluable friends throughout the course of band, orchestra, or choir. The world of music exposes students to those who are both similar and different from them and teaches students to work with others.
When I was first handed a trumpet in seventh-grade, I hardly expected to learn anything more than the instrument. The experiences I have had through band have helped shape me into the person I am today. Through music education, I have learned the value of teamwork, the value of self and the value of others. The importance of music education must be recognized so that the importance of the arts is not lost.