The gift of education.
I think there are fewer gifts (that are realistically within our ability to provide) that are greater than the gift of an education; especially a musical education. It would be awesome if we could end wars, hunger, poverty, and human suffering around the world, it really would, but for most of us those problems are so large and our contribution, however sizeable never seems to be enough. I commend those who give to that work and engage in that work. It is a noble calling and a necessary part of healing the broken parts of our world. While it is good to think globally, it is equally good to think more locally with gifts of charity. An education is an example of such charity and is what I like to term a “wellspring gift.”
A wellspring gift is one that continues to provide long after the dollars have been spent. It is a gift of an investment in an indivudal’s future that decidedly changes the course of their life path and propels them to greater things. It is a gift that empowers and enables the potential of that individual to be unleashed on the world, and in many instances it creates in the individual the capacity to be charitable in the future. All of these things are the result of an initial investment in a wellspring gift like music education.
When you help a child learn to play music you are doing more than teaching them a fun hobby. You are teaching them to read a different language. You are teaching them to be expressive and creative. You are teaching them how to work well with others. You are teaching them the value of practice and patience. You are teaching them that in at least one facet of their lives the standard is perfection and the proper execution of a musical piece demands nothing less. You are teaching them to simultaneously read, translate, emote, express, control breathing, watch and listen to others, complete series of complex muscle movements, control pitch, tempo, tuning and volume, and somehow blend all of that into a final sound that, when combined with all the other voices/instruments doing the same thing, produce a thing of transient beauty for no other end or purpose than the beauty of the music itself. It is the most demanding thing that child will do all day. It will shape the way they think for the rest of their lives.
This gift does not stop when they leave the band room or concert hall. It makes them better at math, better at reading, better at learning a foreign language, better at socializing, better at thinking creatively, better at thinking analytically, and these skills that they learn are ones they get to keep all their lives, even if they never play an instrument again after high school.
When you give the gift of music education you’re not helping to make them a musician necessarily. You are helping to make them a more successful person. When people are successful they have a better chance of going to college, overcoming poverty, and driving the businesses and industries that sustain our economy in the long run. Successful people have more to give to charity themselves and are more likely to give. So an investment in music education is an investment in the future, in the capital of human potential.
Do kids that get early music instruction have higher IQ’s? Most certainly.
Can our schools be made better as a whole by having more kids in band? Yup, they can. All the evidence points to it.
Are kids in band more likely to go to and complete college? They sure are.
Are kids in band more likely to be innovative, productive, happy adults? Well, there’s no evidence I am aware of to back up that claim, but those who have been in music programs and who have had kids in music programs know intuitively that the answer is “yes.”
If you’d like to read actual numbers concerning this stuff, check out the MMEA Advocacy Guide
So when I talk about music education being a wellspring gift you know what I mean…the investment is small in terms of dollars and the payoff is huge and ever compounding. The gift will end up touching many more lives than just the one who received it, an investment in music education is a wellspring for the entire community. Your donations are money well spent.