Music keeps students engaged, develops well-rounded individuals and encourages skills that are vital for success
High achieving, well balanced, socially capable, coordinated, self confident, team player. Likely to double as a list of traits desirable by employers, these characteristics are, in fact, skills research has proven can be increased through regular music education.
Jennifer Wheeler, who holds a doctorate in music from The University of Texas at Austin, affirms this claim. “There are connections to better math scores, language development, spatial reasoning, and more” Wheeler explained.
Wheeler, who has three kids ranging 6-13 years old, said her family includes singing in their everyday life, “I think that is the easiest way to incorporate music for a young child. And, you don’t have to be a great singer! Playing music during playtime, bath time, and lullabies at bedtime are a great way to use music in your home.”
Music teaches kids many lessons that help to prepare them to succeed in school, and in life. “To learn an instrument takes patience and dedication over a long time, something that doesn’t come naturally to most kids,” Wheeler said.
So how do parents know when to start? Wheeler believes as far as formal instrument instruction, it really depends on the child. “My oldest began piano midway through kindergarten and my middle daughter started the violin at four and a half,” she said. “I would wait until a child can sit for 30 minutes at a stretch. It will be different for each child.”
Wheeler stresses that with the right instruction, though, kids can learn the joy of accomplishing something and train themselves to think critically. “Not to mention it’s fun,” she said. “I know that my daughter particularly enjoys the group setting of learning music in band. She has made friends, and they work as a team to learn each piece of music to their full potential.”
A Step Further
Those interested in more intensive music programs in Plano are in luck. Along with the strong music programs offered by the Plano ISD, Plano is also home to the International Conservatory of Performing Arts (ICPA), offering students a plethora of options from private lessons and master classes, to ensembles and theory.
ICPA boasts faculty who are graduates of some of the finest performing arts institutions in the U.S. Active performers themselves, they bring Broadway and international credits plus the experience of a Grammy nominated singer/songwriter. Among them is John Kuether, ICPA’s new Artistic Director of Music, well known for his association with Phantom of the Opera, over 8,000+ national (Broadway touring) productions, and a more recent revival production in Hamburg, Germany. This impressive real-world experience brings a professional sheen to their instruction not typically found in music education.
Students of their Prep School (middle and high school), benefit from a pre-college triple-thread curriculum, (music/voice, dance and theatre), unrivalled preparation for college and/or a career in performing arts.
Learn more about the International Music Conservatory at www.iconservatorypa.com
Meanwhile, Wheeler, whose primary job is teaching flute, music theory and music history at Collin College, is an active supporter of the music education programs put on by the Plano Symphony Orchestra (PSO), one of her employers. “I visit schools each year in Plano and Frisco ISDs and introduce our school concert program,” Wheeler said. “Each school coming to the concert receives a musician visit for its fourth or fifth-grade students. I also play story times in libraries and at kids’ events year round as part of the PSO education outreach.”
Spooky Community Events
Fun family activities are a great way to give children that first exposure to music. For example, the Plano Symphony Orchestra performs its Spooky Symphony on Oct.25 at the Eisemann Center in Richardson. Guests will enjoy popular Halloween melodies and are encouraged to wear costumes. Pre-concert activities offer hands-on experiences such as crafts, Be a Conductor, and the Instrument Petting Zoo, where children can see, hear and play the instruments!
For more information on Spooky Symphony, visit www.planosymphony.org