Paynesville Press - March 16, 2005

Community Perspective

Music permeates our lives everyday

By Jean Louis

(Editor's Note: March is Music In Our Schools Month, and the Press - with help from the music faculty - will feature perspectives on the importance of music this month.)

Rhythm, a basic element of music, makes itself evident all around us: the swinging of a pendulum, the lapping of waves on the shore, the pounding of feet on the pavement as a jogger takes his daily run, and in the very essence of our beings - the beating of the human heart.

Music - comprised of rhythm, melody, and harmony - permeates our daily life. It has structure and purpose, and offers limitless opportunities for creativity. Encouraging students to study music by offering vocal and instrumental opportunities, both group and individual, is a beneficial experience for them.

Teamwork is a big part of the music program in our schools. Whether in band or in choir, the students learn that they need to play or sing precise rhythms and correct notes in order to perform the piece as written. This demands that they follow the written music, pay close attention to the director, and learn to play or sing as one entity, not as individuals. If the director changes the pace of the music, or signals an increase in volume, the performers must follow, and must follow together. Those who participate in band or choir draw close to the students they perform with over the years, as they have all worked together for a common goal: to perform successfully.

The teamwork skills that can be developed through participation in band or choir can transfer to the workplace later on, allowing the individual to work well on committees, planning boards, etc., who all share a common goal.

I have asked both of my children to participate in either band or choir during their middle school and high school years. One chose choir and one chose band. They are both enjoying a quality learning experience with skilled directors, building good friendships with other students they perform with, and learning the essence of teamwork. They don't need to be star performers - learning to work well within a group is a reward that will stick with them the rest of their lives.

As a volunteer in the music program over the past six or seven years, I've been accompanying the middle school choirs as they prepare for concerts. Seeing firsthand the kids' expressions - first of excitement and some nervousness, then the joy of accomplishment after they perform - is a heartwarming experience. They're growing up, and the more positive steps we can help them achieve during these brief years of our contact with them, the better!

Once they are past high school, performing music is a skill that can be taken with them and used for the rest of their lives. By offering the study of music in the schools, we have also equipped the students with basic skills and knowledge to pursue further training in the field of music, if they would choose to do so. There are numerous employment opportunities as teachers, private instructors, accompanists, church choral directors, participants in professional orchestras or chamber groups, recording artists, sound technologists, etc., which are all part of the vast music industry.

I think offering music in our schools is of great importance. My challenge to you is this: during the next week, pay attention to all the ways music infiltrates and influences everyday life. It is present when you turn on the radio in the morning, in the hum of the engine as you drive to work, in the background as you ride the elevator, in the whirring of machines in the workplace, in the chirping of birds outside the window. We are surrounded by the elements of music and never isolated from it.

Music is all around us, and allowing our children to study and experience it firsthandŠto perform, create, and achieveŠis a worthy venture.

Louis has a daughter in the school choir and another in the band.

Would you like to participate as a Community Perspective writer? Call Michael Jacobson at 320-243-3772 to get scheduled as a writer or e-mail him at

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