Editor’s Note: This contribution is dedicated to the memory of Virginia Elizabeth Gilliam, a Mount Pleasant resident and Clemson freshman who died after a short illness in August. Gilliam was a lifelong musician who loved music in all forms and shared her musical gifts of singing with her family, classmates, teachers and the community.
By Katharine Bloder
Children naturally have the ability and capacity to decode sounds and words in their early years. Music education helps enhance these natural abilities. To grow up in a musically rich environment provides opportunities for language development in parts of the brain that respond naturally to these interventions.
There is good neuroscience research that children involved in music have enhanced growth and brain activity toward higher-evel thinking skills as a result of musical interventions.
As an adult, I cannot imagine a life without music. The ability to appreciate, respect and “read” music whether listening to, performing or teaching provides a depth of growth unlike other areas of study.
I attribute my love of music to my mother’s insistence that I take piano lessons at a young age. As a second-grade student in South Dakota, I walked once a week to the piano teacher’s house for a weekly lesson. Often I balked and did not want to go, but with encouragement and support gradually I looked forward to these lessons.
Later on, I was provided with a band instrument in order to participate in the junior high and senior high bands in addition to taking guitar lessons. In looking back, I now realize the many “gifts” of time, perseverance and music enrichment that I was so fortunate to receive.
Children benefit from early exposure and character development in learning to be patient when playing in a band or an orchestra. When singing in a choir, one has to be willing to take turns. Multiple skills sets are utilized when engaged in musical endeavors. There is research-based evidence that link music and spatial intelligence growth as a result of music education.
Research set aside, as a parent I was fortunate to have a mother who provided me with a multitude of opportunities that I, in turn, have imparted to my children; now young adults. Their lives are richer with the ability to read music, to appreciate and play for enjoyment and relaxation.
The music programs offered in our public schools offer outstanding opportunities for growth. The friendships established as a result of band and choir rehearsals, trips, recitals and more changed my children into lifelong advocates of the everlasting value toward having music in their lives.
Give your child a gift that provides opportunities for growth, centeredness, a great appreciation for the arts and more. Expose your child to the world of music. Listening to music, appreciating, playing and singing all are ways to provide opportunities for growth and balance in a child’s life.
Find joy, peace and calmness in life in keeping music in your life and in the lives of your children.
Katharine Bloder was Virginia’s kindergarten teacher at James B. Edwards Elementary School. Bloder teaches second grade at James B. Edward Elementary School. She is the parent of four children, all whom have benefitted from music education programs.