By Fargo Public Schools Performing Arts Curriculum Specialist Denese Odegaard
Each March, music is celebrated through Music in Our Schools Month, sponsored by the National Association for Music Education. Music is a powerful addition to life. What would your life be like without music? Think about the number of students that are plugged into their headphones before, during, and after school. Music can be an effective way to “pump up the crowd” at a Bison game. Music makes a movie scarier, a wedding more beautiful, or takes away the sorrow of a loss.
Music has the power to communicate a culture. One fourth of our Fargo Public Schools students are from another country. In a recent music class, a student with special needs from Africa was given a drum and he began to play the drum patterns of his former country. He grew up on these sounds and was able to instinctively imitate them through drumming. Each culture has its own music and traditions to distinctively set apart one from another.
Music has the power to convey a message. Our favorite artists captivate us with their lyrics, and many of us have a playlist for various situations and emotions in life. Music allows us to express what we cannot put into words.
Music has the power to convey the spectrum of human emotions from the most joyful to the most sorrowful. Many people find music to match their mood or music to change their mood.
Music has the power to entertain through musicals, concerts, and special events.
Music has the power to connect with others. In many Alzheimer’s units across the country, patients have become responsive when music is played. Music helps the patients recall memories and emotions and
they “join” the world for brief periods of time.
Music has the power to heal by “taking people out of themselves” for a period of time. Music also produces direct biological changes, such as reducing heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels.
Music has the power to invoke social change. Research studies suggest that exposure to prosocial lyrics increases positive thought, empathy, and influences helping others.
Music has the power to unite a nation and comfort in time of need. Music crosses language barriers to allow people to come together for a cause or healing. A great example of this is 150 members of Congress gathering on the steps of the capitol breaking out in “God Bless America” to convey to our country that we were united on the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center.
Music has power to tell a story or share a feeling which may be unpredictable, scary, or exciting.
Music has the power to change the culture of a school. In Roxbury, Massachusetts, in a school full of violence and disorder, the principal fired the security guards and added music and arts. This school went from one of the bottom five schools in the state to one of the fastest student improvement rates in the state.
Music in our district and community is supported and celebrated because music makes a difference in the lives of students, the school, and the community.
Celebrate the importance of music in your life by closing your eyes and reflecting on a time when music helped you connect more deeply with another human being, expressed your feelings at the moment, or had a profound impact on you.