ISD 181 Viewpoint: Music provides keys to student learning
Given the opportunity to write about the music programs at ISD 181, my mind is drawn to one recent performance that had a profound impact on our students and community. On Wednesday, November 11, approximately 300 Brainerd High School music stude...
Given the opportunity to write about the music programs at ISD 181, my mind is drawn to one recent performance that had a profound impact on our students and community. On Wednesday, November 11, approximately 300 Brainerd High School music students from the band, choir and orchestra programs came together and performed America the Beautiful for community veterans and their families. It was a privilege for our music students to share their music in the hopes of conveying appreciation and gratitude for our community veterans. This one unique performance lends insight into the question: why is there music education in the Brainerd Public Schools?
So, why are there music ensembles rehearsing during the school day in the Brainerd Public Schools? The answer is the same for the following question: Why are students studying English, math and science in the Brainerd Public Schools? Because knowledge and appreciation in these areas of study not only prepares these students for successful citizenship in our society, but enriches their human experience.
Plato is quoted as saying, "I would teach children music, physics and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning." Plato's reference to patterns in music as the "keys to learning' speaks to the citizenship aspect of a music education. In order to be successful as a musician, the student must master many skills that are thought to be "soft skills" or "citizenship skills." Music students must listen carefully to their neighbors in class so as to complement the work of the class and make it stronger with their added voice. The students must constantly listen outside themselves and assess their contribution to the goals of the class. They must obey the rules of the rehearsal and uphold their individual accountability to the larger goal of creating something beautiful, meaningful and heartfelt. These are the same skills needed for citizenship in our society.
In addition to these important skills, students experience a meaningful emotional outlet that is healthy and supportive. Students are a part of a community within our schools where they know they are safe, can be expressive, and are encouraged to take risk. The topic is always relevant-it is about life and our connections to one another. Music is uniquely human, and learning how to make it connects us to the fabric of humanity that is at once absolutely basic (think: humming a simple lullaby to a newborn) and extremely complex (think: Vivaldi's Gloria for full orchestra and choir).
Now, back to the Veterans Day performance. The music students at Brainerd High School were able to communicate something beautiful and heartfelt because of their level of academic knowledge and skill. However, like any good communication, it is a two-way street. The veterans in our community shared their stories of sacrifice, examples of citizenship, and demonstrated their dedication to the ideals that Brainerd Public Schools is striving to teach. The music education of these students allowed for a meaningful dialogue between area veterans and our students. A dialogue that could not be put into words, but could not be left unsaid.
To learn more about the Brainerd Public Schools music programs, please go to www.brainerdmusic.org and for Brainerd Public Schools information, please go to www.isd181.org
Christopher Fogderud, Brainerd High School band director, and Brian Stubbs, Brainerd High School choir director