Music and youth, an important partnership


Students who play the violin at Woodstock Elementary School and learn a long-standing skill that science has shown will help them be more successful in life. Photo provided.

BETHEL – Music can change people. How? ‘Or’ What? According to, (a Kohl’s / Penfield Children’s Center project), music can stimulate alpha brain waves which in turn invoke a sense of peace and quiet. It also stimulates the development of perceptual skills that improve language.

“Sometimes music helps us articulate things we wouldn’t be able to articulate otherwise,” says Melissa Birkhold, music teacher at Crescent Elementary. “As a music teacher, it’s a real privilege to be able to help my students develop this awareness, as well as their ability to express awareness, and just develop their creativity in a general sense.

When asked how music can change a student’s life, Sarah Safford, an instrument teacher at Woodstock Elementary School, said music gives students a place to anchor. They have been with the same peers for 3-4 years, working together towards the same goal. There is growth with the same set of people. It can also help on a small scale by helping them make connections with music, teaching students work ethic and perseverance by having them come home and practice. It teaches them to focus.

The interesting part of being in an orchestra or group is that the student has to focus on their musical notes and how they play their instrument, but at the same time they also have to focus on what does the conductor and each section of the orchestra. /bandaged. Students are able to refine their concentration skills from this experience.

Safford says music gives them a chance to belong, it gives them an identity. She adds that the kids are so excited to play instruments that it’s the highlight of their day.

Students have the opportunity to try out many instruments depending on their level and class. In Birkhold’s music class, students learn to play the recorder, xylophone, and other percussion instruments. They can also sing.

“They sing a variety of songs, and I put in a lot of little stories and games that make them sing,” says Birkhold. “Especially at the youngest elementary ages, the lessons are strongly based on movement and play.

Tapping into their innate ability to learn through movement and play allows me to develop their rhythmic skills and provide them with opportunities to connect with the more expressive qualities of music. Students also learn to read music and compose their own music, both individually and collaboratively.

At Woodstock Elementary it’s a little different.

Third, fourth and fifth graders can choose to play the violin, viola, or cello. In addition, fourth and fifth graders can play group instruments such as flute, clarinet, alt. saxophone, trumpet, trombone or percussion. More so, once they are in fifth grade, during recess, they have the option of playing rock band music on rock n ‘roll instruments such as guitar or bass guitar. The school supplies the instruments with the instruments it currently has.

Music, unlike language, ignites every part of the brain, including motivation and emotion, according to the Penfield website.

“I have seen that music allows students to take more ownership of their learning and become more proactive in finding new learning opportunities,” says Birkhold. “I have seen students develop confidence in their musical abilities when confidence is sometimes lacking in other areas of their education. I have also seen students reach new levels of independence and competence in terms of their ability to engage socially with their peers and with adults.

According to the National Association for Music Education, “70% of those who have been involved in music say it has had at least some influence on their current level of personal development. “

“There is also a strong link between music and the social / emotional development of young people,” says Birkhold. “Science has been around for some time to show this positive correlation. I think COVID has shed light on what it really looks like in young people, and why it’s so important that we continue to find creative ways to support their social / emotional growth. “

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