The Community of Music and its Importance Music advocacy

Einstein

The music community has had many famous members throughout all of history: Mozart, Bach, Louis Armstrong, Steven Tyler, Madonna, Beyoncé, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, and Albert Einstein just to name a few. Yes, Albert Einstein was an innovative scientist, but he was also musician. At the age of six he began to learn the violin and continued to play the violin until "he felt leaving his facility left hand" in his older age. "Music was not only a relaxation to Einstein, it also helped him in his work." He used music to as a way to spark ideas, gather his thoughts, and to produce many innovations in the field of physics.

Like Einstein, we all can benefit from what the music community has to offer. While being in the music community is more than likely not going to cause you to become a great physicist like Einstein, there are a variety of studies and personal experiences documented that points to music being one of the greatest positive influences we all have at our disposal and should be taking advantage of. Music and its community stimulates the brain in such a way that it can improve how it participants do educationally, socially, and emotionally.

Education

Today, the public education system in the United States is constantly looking for ways to increase the quality of education its students are receiving and, in turn, increase the test scores of students. During this constant struggle to improve education, music education is often put to the side and seen as less important than subjects such as math, science, and English. However, the public education system should be doing just the opposite. Music education, as well as other art educations, spark creativity in the students. This seems to be something the public education system recognizes since they are still retained within the curriculum. However, many studies have been done recognizing the full effects music can have on the development of young students and their achievements across subjects.

Music Crossing Subjects

Different musical skills can have different learning benefits outside the realm of music. This is called the transfer of learning and it happens when tasks share similar cognitive processes. "Historically, it has long been assumed that there is a strong connection between music and mathematics. Musicians playing from notation are constantly required to adopt quasi-mathematical process to sub-divide beats and turn rhythmic notation into sound." This method used to read and play music is similar enough cognitively that learning skills can transfer across the two subjects. However, according to a study performed by Rauscher et al.,this is only the case for students receiving rhythmic instruction and piano and singing students didn't show the same benefits. While certain skills do not always transfer, a multitude of studies have shown that there is a variety of benefits educationally from the diverse community of music.

Along with mathematics skills, music has been shown to improve several other aspects of students' learning in the public education system. The above video, from the Music For All website, depicts the variety of benefits in education, backed by research, that music students can receive. While students often show more enjoyment in school when taking music education courses, students may also exhibit higher skills in language, reading, science, and higher standardized test scores. The music community offers not only fun and creativity to those who choose to join, but it may also increase the general quality of experience during schooling.

Social

Music is an extremely social activity that almost everyone takes some part in. Whether you are the performer or the viewer, there is a social connection happening. While, that connection is forming in the moment, it is the social skills learning through the music community that is truly important. Marching band is a prime example of how students can learn positive social interactions between themselves, the audience, and future situations.

Marching Band

Marching band can be one of the most tight-knitted communities you will ever find. Members of a marching band often form very close bonds between each other through all the time they spend working towards the goal of the best fifteen minute field show they can collectively produce. "Band students learn to cooperate and collaborate with those from different backgrounds and capabilities." With marching bands, students have the opportunity to work with other students of different grades, backgrounds, social statuses, and ethnic groups. Being able to work with a variety of people prepares students for future social interactions as they branch off in life and increases their understanding and empathy for other people and their culture.

Confidence

Marching band, as well as other music communities, can raise self-esteem and self-confidence through the social development they go through working with others. When students participate in music communities they form social bonds with the people they are working with on an almost daily basis. "Working in small musical groups requires the development of trust and respect and skills of negotiation and compromise." While this statement is true, it does not only apply to small groups. It also applies to groups like marching band and through the trust and respect that comes from working together people for self-confidence in themselves. Music communities are always working together to build each other up. Otherwise, those communities would not be successful in their performances or as good musicians.

Emotional

Perhaps the most understood aspect of the music community and music itself is the emotions that music can produce within a person. At some point in almost every person's life, music has effected you emotionally. Listening to music can influence how we are thinking at that moment and can make us happy, energized, thoughtful, sad, etc. and it shows. ". . .Nietzsche, said, ‘We listen to music with our muscles.’ This, at least, is something we can see. It is evident in all of us—we tap our feet, we ‘keep time’, hum, sing along or ‘conduct’ music, our facial expressions mirroring the rises and falls, the melodic contours and feelings of what we are hearing. Yet all this may occur without our knowledge or volition." We "listen to music with our muscles" because music effects our emotions which are tightly connected to our facial expressions and body language. With this in mind, music can also be used as a tool for everyday use. For example, soft classical-style music can keep you calm and relaxed for studying or working while a variety of music with energetic tempos can help you keep pace during a workout. We can use music as a tool for our own emotions, however, some people have come to use music as a tool during therapy.

Dementia is becoming a more common disease in present day due to longer life expectancies. Music therapy has become a great tool for assisting people with dementia control their anxiety and confusion. In one instance, a music therapy session helped improve the emotional state of more than just one patient.

"Late one afternoon, a resident referred to as 'Ruby" (alias), could not be located for individual session. . . I greeted and invited Ruby to join me for some singing. The anxiety and confusion Ruby was experiencing was escalating, further impairing her ability to understand what was happening . . . a co-resident, invited me to 'play Ruby's concert here, they wouldn't mind' . . . I began to sing a familiar song . . . Ruby started singing almost immediately" (Delaney).

Ruby's mood instantly changed and a cheerful or happy spirit began to spread around the room. Multiple people began to join them. Some of the staff danced, visitors joined in, and other residents sang along as well. The usually dull mood of the room changed and people shared a meaningful connection through the music they were singing. Through the small music community that formed there, Ruby's emotions were relaxed and social connections were made.

Final Notes

The music community is a community of variety. Music can be found or connected to almost any topic. It is an important aspect of human life and culture. Music can be used as a tool to enrich education, improve social development and connection, and to understand our emotions. The importance of the music community is sometimes lost. Don't allow yourself to miss out on the benefits music has to offer everyone.

Work cited

Delaney, Angela,M.MusThy B.SpecEd, R.M.T. "The Intimate Simplicity of Group Singing: A Reflection of Practice." The Australian Journal of Music Therapy, vol. 26, 2015., pp. 71-81.

Photo Essay

The music community comes in a variety of forms, but are one in the same. Whether you are in a marching band, play gigs at local pubs, play in the orchestra, just started learning how to play an instrument, or none of those things and you just like music, you can be a part of the music community in some way. This community is unique because it doesn't discriminate in anyway. I've been a part of this community for almost my entire life. The skills you gain, experiences you experience, and people you meet is absolutely thrilling. The music community has so much to offer, all you need to do is get involved in some way.

Annotated Bibliography

Can, A. A., and Utku Yüksel. "Assessment of Music Education Courses of Public Education Center in the Direction of the Trainees Opinions in the Process of Lifelong Learning." Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. 31, 2012., pp. 704-713doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.12.128. Dr. Can, assistant Professor of Marmara University, Istanbul, Turkey, and his graduate student, Utku Yüksel, did a social study assessing a variety of people’s view on music education courses in Turkey’s public education. This study focuses mainly on how people of three different education backgrounds, Primary/Secondary, High School, and University, felt about music education. Their opinions were gathered through simple yes/no questions related to the music education course they had taken at some point in time. Like in many schools in America, this studied showed that music is appreciated but under-supported. The study notes, “It is seen that the education activities applied in P.E.C. dominates positively in the realization of personal goals according to the trainees aged 20 and above.” However, while it is seen as important or meaningful, those who participated in the study also thought, “…that the materials used in P.E.C are deficient, not sufficient and not brought into use adequately are remarkable as it shows that there are physical deficiencies about the institution.” This study shows that, within this population of those studied, the music education program is lacking and that the program needs a reform.

Delaney, Angela,M.MusThy B.SpecEd, R.M.T. "The Intimate Simplicity of Group Singing: A Reflection of Practice." The Australian Journal of Music Therapy, vol. 26, 2015., pp. 71-81. This article focused on how music therapy can positively impact patients in nursing homes. Angela Delaney, the author of the work and healthcare professional, describes in a section called "The Narrative" an instance with a resident, who has dementia, of the nursing home with the alias of Ruby. Ruby had been receiving individual music therapy in her personal room for over a year, but Ruby was not there. She was actually in a lounge by the entrance of the building confused and agitated. The situation to follow panned out much better than most people would anticipate. "I greeted and invited Ruby to join me for some singing. The anxiety and confusion Ruby was experiencing was escalating, further impairing her ability to understand. . . a co-resident, invited me to 'play Ruby's concert here (in the entrance), they wouldn't mind.' . . . Ruby started singing almost immediately." The resident's mood completely changed and soon others began to join them in singing. Most did not stay very long, but the general mood of the lounge was changed for that session. This shows how music can change a person's outlook life and help treat dementia.

Ehrlin, A., & Gustavsson, H. (2015). The Importance of Music in Preschool Education. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 40(7). Authors Anna Ehrlin and Hans-Olof Gustavsson, both from the Malardalen University of Sweden, discuss the importance of music in preschool education and the education of those who plan to teach preschool in this article. According to the article, music has been a part of the curriculum in Sweden since 1998, yet music education in the program is lacking. ". . . only a few credit points at the preschool teacher education programme are dedicated to music and other forms of art, and the learning outcomes are most focused on the theoretical understanding of childrens' aesthetic learning processes. The importance of developing knowledge and skills in music - for example, singing and playing - are restricted in the preschool teacher education programme of today." While music is supposed to be considered important according to Sweden's national curriculum, it is not fully treated as such when it comes to the education the preschool teachers have received. While this article stresses the importance of music education and shows how its lacking, it does not mention the benefits of it very well.

Foster, Brian. “Einstein and His Love of Music.” Physics World, vol. 18, no. 1, 2005, pp. 1–1. doi:10.1088/2058-7058/18/1/28. Brian Foster, experimental particle physicist at Oxford University, wrote this article to inform others of how music effected Albert Einstein throughout his life. While being one of the most influential scientists in recent history, he was also a musician. "He once said that had he not been a scientist, he would have been a musician. 'Life without playing music is inconceivable for me,' he declared. 'I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music…I get most joy in life out of music.'" Einstein used music not only as a way to escape and relax, but also as a tool to further his research. This is a great example of how music crosses over into other subjects and can promote creative thinking. Einstein is a great example of how we all can use music as a tool to further our own learning and knowledge.

Gardner, John. “10 Values Marching Band Students Learn.” Virtual Music Office, 8 Mar. 2016, www.virtualmusicoffice.com/10-values-marching-band-students-learn/. John Gardner, the author, has much experience in the field of music. Specifically, he spent fifteen years as a high school band director and is knowledgeable about the community. In this website article, he discusses the many values students learn through participating in high school marching band. Of the ten values he discussed, one sticks out among the rest; "Band students learn to cooperate and collaborate with those from different backgrounds and capabilities." Being able to work with a wide variety of people is essential because of how connected the world has become. In marching band, everyone participates and everyone is expected to put in equal effort. Teamwork is key to success in marching band and through this teamwork a tight-knit community is often formed. Gardner discusses nine other values gained from the music community of marching band that are also great symbols of how marching band can positively impact the lives of those involved.

Hallam, S. “The Power of Music: Its Impact on the Intellectual, Social and Personal Development of Children and Young People.” International Journal of Music Education, vol. 28, no. 3, Jan. 2010, pp. 269–289. doi:10.1177/0255761410370658. This journal article discusses in length the many positive benefits music can provide to those who study it. Each section within the article contains information valuable for music advocacy with well documented citations of studies proving the benefits of music to the topic of the section. "Reviews of the research with adult singers have concluded that there are a range of health and well-being benefits of participating in a choir. There is every reason to suppose that these benefits would also apply to children. The benefits include: physical relaxation. . . reduction of feelings of stress; a sense of happiness, . . . a sense of greater personal, emotional and physical well-being; . . . stimulation of cognitive capacities – attention, concentration, memory and learning; . . . (Clift et al, 2008; Stacey et al., 2002)." Music has many benefits for those involved and the author, Susan Hallam from the University of London, explains them all in great detail for the advocacy of music education.

“Music Advocacy.” Music for All, Inc, Yamaha Corporation of America, www.musicforall.org/who-we-are/advocacy. The Music for All website is dedicated to promoting music everywhere. It contains many reliable resources for music educators and advocates to use to keep music alive in public education and its students. On one page contained within the website titled "Quick Facts and Stats," it references several different sources with a variety of statistics related to the positive effects of music education. One of their facts read, "The College Entrance Examination Board found that students involved in public school music programs scored 107 points higher on the SAT's than students with no participation. - Profiles of SAT and Achievement Test Takers, The College Board, compiled by the Music Educators National Conference (2002)." A great deal of focus is stressed on achieving well in standardized tests like the SAT's in public education today. This, and other statistics on the website, will support my advocacy of the music community.

O'Donnell, Laurance. “Music and the Brain.” Music and the Brain, www.cerebromente.org.br/n15/mente/musica.html. The information contained within this article was interesting and has lead me to research deeper into some of the topics the author mentioned. However, the work contains few citations of facts and information. One of the topics of interest was related to Albert Einstein. "A little known fact about Einstein is that when he was young he did extremely poor in school. His grade school teachers told his parents to take him out of school because he was "too stupid to learn" and it would be a waste of resources for the school to invest time and energy in his education." According to the author, Einstein's parents decided the education system was wrong and instead introduced him to music. Music became how he would work through his ideas and thoughts and helped to became the famous mind we all know today. To ensure this information's reliability, further research will have to be done.

Sacks, Oliver. “The Power of Music.” Brain, vol. 129, no. 10, 15 Sept. 2006, pp. 2528–2532. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/brain/awl234. Author Oliver Sacks was very well-written in "The Power of Music," while also engaging with more contemporary or popular culture throughout the piece which made it a very easy read. Sacks discusses in great detail and variety how music can affect many different types of people including the average person, people with musical hallucinations, those with Williams syndrome, and a few other types of peoples. ". . .we tap our feet, we ‘keep time’, hum, sing along or ‘conduct’ music, our facial expressions mirroring the rises and falls, the melodic contours and feelings of what we are hearing. Yet all this may occur without our knowledge or volition. But these effects, the overflow of music into the motor system, can easily go too far, becoming irresistible and perhaps even coercive." He discusses not only how music can positively affect people, but some of the negative effects it may have on people with different diseases or disorders. However, the term "negative" should be taken lightly, due to many of the situations he describes not being completely hindering to all and many people in those situations still enjoy music in different forms. This text will be able to connect to my topic well and I may be able to engage with it throughout many sections because the content within it has such variety.

Spaeth, Jeanne. "Alan Menken On Music's Many Forms." Music Educators Journal. 84.3 (1997): 39. Academic Search Alumni Edition. Web. 8 Dec. 2016. This interview between the author, Jeanne Spaeth, and music composer Alan Menken largely discusses Menken's life in the music business. However, his personal education is also discussed as well as music education. "For example, when kids study a culture and then its music, that shows connections between people and music and between intellectual development and musical development." While Menken does have a biased opinion as a composer of music for a part of modern day culture, movies, this article shows how music can effect one person and cause them to affect us all through the works they produce. Menken also notes during the interview that the school district in which he attended supported music education very generously. This relates to my topic in part by showing how a properly supported music program can produce students that go on to have a great impact on the world and its culture.

Reflective Piece

When thinking about my community, music, I decided that a broad research question should be: How does music benefit and/or effect people? Shortly into my research I found more specific questions through my three main ideas throughout my advocacy paper: education, social development and connection, and the influence on human emotions. With these ideas in mind, I was able to advocate for the music community in a variety of ways with resources of different backgrounds. While I was not very argumentative during my essay, I was able to use facts, studies, other people's personal experiences, and my own thoughts and feelings to advocate for the music community in a more informative manner. I believe I often made clear points on the benefits of the music community in a variety of different settings throughout my essay.

I showed my ability to effectively use a variety of resources throughout my advocacy essay. I mined for information in a variety of different educational backgrounds including, music education, health professions, psychology, and music therapy to name a few.

Overall, I believe my advocacy essay to be fairly well done in terms of the eight objectives for English 201. My position on music advocacy was clear even in the few moments I mentioned opposing views. I tried to keep my purpose clear throughout the piece with my purpose being showing the audience of my paper the benefits that come with being a part of the music community. My purpose became clear during my research. Before, I just understood that I was going to be advocating for the music community in some way and it was probably going to be a specific music community. However, through my research I discovered that the music community is too broad and overlapping to contain the essay to just one form of a music community. Through my research, I noticed that music communities across different varieties share similar goals and characteristics. One weakness of my essay may be the stylistic flow from section to section, with the differences in ideas I was discussing, my transitions may be weaker than they should be. After completing this advocacy essay, I feel that I have a better understanding of all 8 objectives better than when I entered the course.

Credits:

Created with images by slgckgc - "Columbia Marching Band Taking the Field for the Halftime Show" • janeb13 - "albert einstein portrait theoretician physician" • Hermann - "books education school" • euslwood - "band sweden marching band" • sandra.guther20 - "Funk Music" • Pictures by Ann - "Helen Listening to Sophia Play the Harp" • smswigart - "marching band marching" • bysamantha - "london band march" • Visit Cape May - "Bay Atlantic Symphony.high res" • ataelw - "KellyleeEvans_0009bw" • RyanMcGuire - "musician country song banjo" • ACE Foundation - "Clarinets"

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