At the Academy for G.O.D. this semester, Jr High and High schoolers are spending two hours a week learning to play instruments as part of their class worship band. Instructors Britt Edwards and Chris Cameron have been witnesses to numerous benefits of such a course.
The class has several students who have never played an instrument. One of their goals has been to familiarize the teenagers with music, instruments, meter, rhythm, and other basic musical concepts. They have been learning songs as a band and playing them to reinforce these concepts through practice.
Aside from the technical aspects, the students are learning how important it is that each of them play their role well to make the whole band function properly. They are building a team mentality and increasing friendships as a result.
Playing music has the potential to change the day for students. Some days, a student may come into class stressed about something, feeling disconnected from their peers, or just generally lacking enthusiasm, but by the end of the class their demeanor can completely change. They can feel good about what they've accomplished in a class and ready to face the day.
According to many neuroscientists, playing a musical instrument, not merely listening to music, is significant in the development of multiple non-musical brain functions, including memory, attention, language skills, reading skills (read more), speech perception, the ability to understand emotions in the voice, the ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously, problem-solving, and other executive functions (read more).
Without this course, most of the Academy’s teenagers would not otherwise be afforded the opportunity to participate in music-making. Music classes are often the first to get cut from school budgets. But we recognize the value of such an activity, in the training of executive functioning and development of musical intelligence, and providing a social and emotional engagement for our students.