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Friday, May 08, 2015

Learning is Instrumental

"As music and arts programs nationwide suffer from budget cuts, they continue to flourish at Flathead Valley schools" writes Molly Priddy, Author at Flathead Beacon.
 

Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s not yet 8 a.m. at the high school. The main office is still shuttered, and even the coffee shop is gated. Teenagers, in their historic late-rising glory, shouldn’t be happily awake, but in the music rooms at the school, they’re thriving.

In close proximity, three different jazz ensembles are hard at work in their final rehearsals before heading to the Montana High School Association State Solo and Ensemble Festivals in Missoula (the festival took place May 1 and 2).

One jazz group works on a traditional tune while in the next room, they’re grooving to some Grateful Dead. Nearby, the experienced Voce choir – a select group of music students made up of juniors and seniors – is running through the songs it will sing for the judges.

Music teacher Mark McCrady floats among the groups, offering tweaks and encouragement, but mostly leaving them to monitor themselves. It’s stunning how much good music these kids can play so early in the morning.

“Not a bad way to start the day,” McCrady said.

Before 9 a.m., the 19 orchestra students who are also headed to the festival settled in for their final rehearsals.

All told, Whitefish High School was preparing to send about 60 students to the state finals, having earned “superior” ratings at the district music festival two weeks prior.

“That’s one out of every eight kids walking through the hallways at Whitefish High School,” Principal Kerry Drown said. “That’s pretty impressive.”

Most humans feel a connection to music in some way; turn on a toe-tapping tune in a crowded room and watch to see how many people start moving with the beat, consciously or not.

Music is the language of choice for some, a sanctuary for others; it’s human emotion translated without words, an outlet for the creativity brewing in our heads.ost humans feel a connection to music in some way; turn on a toe-tapping tune in a crowded room and watch to see how many people start moving with the beat, consciously or not.

It’s also important for brain development and maintenance, according to the Journal of Neuroscience. In 2013, the journal published a study showing that older adults who took music lessons as children had faster brain responses to speech sounds than those who didn’t take childhood lessons. This held true even for those adults who hadn’t actively played an instrument in decades.

Other studies have shown music education helps enhance a student’s overall ability in other scholastic arenas, such as math and language development.

Relying on music to help develop students’ overall abilities is part of the scholastic foundation in the Whitefish School District, Drown said.
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Source: Flathead Beacon 


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