August 31, 2017
In 1994, September was proclaimed Classical Music Month in America, a time to celebrate the endurance of great music through the ages and across our nation.
According to the U.S. presidential proclamation:
“What was heard in a Vienna opera house was heard again in a colonial theater in Charleston…, was echoed at the inauguration of President Lincoln, was repeated in turn-of-the-century Chicago, and is played again today by a range of musicians from the most skilled of virtuosos to the youngest student struggling with the complexities of the violin.”
Many families associated with Our Military Kids believe in the power of music, not only in its ability to positively affect moods and abilities, but in its effect on child development. Since January, Our Military Kids has awarded nearly 300 grants to children, age 5 through twelfth grade, learning instruments ranging from the violin to keyboard to voice. OMK has given nearly 1650 grants for music since 2012.
At that time, five years ago, USC neuroscientists began a study on the impact of music on child development. The results reflect that music training accelerates brain development. The NAMM Foundation also reports new research and statistics about the benefits of music education — to include enhanced social development and math achievement.
Kristine Jones, the mother of five OMK music grant recipients, has seen another benefit in music training. “Part of the reason I got our kids involved in music is because I wanted them to be able to help out in church,” she said, citing examples in her own life when she had wished she could contribute to musical programs, but she had very little training.
“Over time, the kids noticed social benefits too,” Jones said. “When someone needs a piano player or someone with another musical skill, they can participate.”
Heather Garner is another mother of an OMK music grant recipient. Her son, Max, age 11, started taking private cello lessons after they moved to Tennessee, where his new school did not offer orchestra classes. She said Max loves music so much, “he wants to study it in college.”
“I have told our kids that music training is like any core class,” said Jones. “In our household, it’s mandatory curriculum, whether it’s orchestra or choir or piano. It teaches them how to work hard on something and to be consistent. My son fought me on it at first, but, after taking piano, one day he said, ‘I just love music, Mom.’ It gives him an outlet and joy in his life.”
Garner’s husband Major Ephrom Garner, is deployed with the Army Reserve to Kuwait for another six months. She said she likes many things about music training, but she thinks the most important thing it offers is that it helps kids “realize they can do hard things.”
Jones’ husband, Capt. Allen Jones, is currently deployed with the Army National Guard until next April. Kristine said she encourages the kids every Sunday morning to set the phone on the piano and hit record.
“Just play your songs for Dad,” she said.
(Please send your comments to Judy McSpadden at JSMcSpadden@ourmilitarykids.org.)