Sean Kemp teaches music to students from morning to night at Flagstaff Academy in Longmont. Sondra Blanchard juggles over 1,000 musical instruments students can rent at HB Woodsongs in Boulder. At Classical Tones in Broomfield, Alena Kamchatna works with all age levels from 5 years old to college bound.
Ask any of them why they work so hard to teach music to young people and they will answer as Sean does: “Because it’s worth it.”
Sean, the band director, breaks down why music is important. He said:
“People are drawn to music because it touches our humanity at our core. There was a bone flute found in a cave in France, something like 40,000 years ago. I think about that – it’s well before a written language. There is something about music that seems evolutionarily important to us.
If you’re playing in a band, you are playing your part and fitting into something larger than just yourself. When you do it live and respond to others, you’ve got to listen, balance, blend, make sure you are playing the right volume and in tune, and that you match the frequency of your instrument to the frequency of something everyone else is playing. All that is happening live, simultaneously.”
Music teaches teamwork. We’re teaching students they have a role to play in the piece of music. Sometimes you may want a solo line, or you may want to play loud enough that your parents can hear you but that’s not best for the overall greater good.
Music teaches grit. Students learn that failure is a part of the process. We will all fail, and in fact we say, ‘Be kind, we will all make bad sounds sometimes.’ One of best things from the academic standpoint is that making music teaches students you are going to fail and it’s what you do next that makes the difference in the long run.
Music is so good at teaching us that our failures are public. You can’t be playing in band class and make a mistake, and no one notices. If you make a mistake in math, the feedback is generally not public. In band we create a climate where students realize failure is part of process. That will carry through to other aspects of their academic life.
Sondra Blanchard with HB Woodsongs said of music, “Students are learning a new language, they are learning math skills and working with others, they are working in community and improving their listening skills when they work together to create a piece of art. There is tremendous creativity in creating and learning music. And with rhythm there is the mind-body connection. Music also creates an improvement in cognitive ability. Emotionally children are learning to be patient. It’s not easy making music together, and certainly with beginners they are learning patience and empathy with others.
Sondra said that the store has “musical petting zoos” so students can see which instrument suits them. Parents can even rent instruments in Woodsongs’ rent-to-own program. “If your students like it and want to continue, we can apply the rent to your purchase. If they don’t like it or want to switch instruments, we can apply the amount to another purchase.”
Alena Kamchatna had her dream of owning a music store come true with Classical Tones. The Ukrainian-born classical musician teaches lessons every day, including weekends.
She starts children with piano to learn the foundational skills. “We help children learn to make a commitment and stick with their commitment,” she said. “Eventually they will even learn to compose and improvise.” Classical Tones has all ages including students as young as 5 years old in summer camp where they had a different selection of instruments to see what they might like to try.
“Our school is different than any other,” Alena said. “For students who want to take their music journey to the next level, we are now offering the Trinity Music Program, so they can get a certificate from an accredited Trinity College London, UK and to receive a credit equivalence towards college in the United States.”
By Linda Thorsen Bond, for Raised in the Rockies