SOMWaD: Music More Than Math

This morning I turned to my son and told him that while math was important and I always wanted him to do his best, MUSIC (instrumental and vocal) was more important and that I wanted him to spend more time on music than he does on math.  In the long run, I told him, music would be more important in his life than math.

Am I out of my mind?  Perhaps, but I don't think so.

Let me again say that I am NOT dismissing math as a subject.  I am not saying that it is an important part of life; it is.  We ALL need to know the basics of math in order to survive in this word.  Sure we've all got calculators, but we NEED the basics.  Those who love math (I hear such people exist) and who use it or plan to use it in their working life need to focus more on the subject, but as for my son I think he needs to focus more on music.

Whether he likes it or not he is a musical kid.  I often hear him singing or humming when he's playing.  He's been involved in our church choir since he was in first grade.  (Truth be told, I sort of forced him in the beginning, but he seems to enjoy it more now that he's older.)  He started playing the trumpet two years ago and is pretty good.  (He'd be better if he practiced more, but what kid wants to practice?  Of course I think he likes practicing trumpet more than doing math homework, but that's not saying much.)  He decided he would continue with the trumpet this year when he moved to middle school.  He also decided that he would be part of the school's chorus.  Both of these classes meet early in the morning and require him getting to school by 7:40.  (Which is why I drive him three or four days a week.  I can't ask him to walk to school at 7:10 in the morning when the crossing guards are not yet on duty.) He doesn't like getting up and going, but he does it.  I asked him if he wants to continue with both next year and he has said yes. So music is HIS choice.  (Do you think he'd say the same if math was a choice?)

When I think back on my experiences in middle school and high school, math is NOT the first thing that comes to mind.  Music however was an integral part of my life, as it is my son's.  Because I was involved in the music program, I met a wide variety of people, not just those in my grade level.  This is still the case for my son.  Since he is active in the music program, he interacts with the "older kids" and as he becomes an "older kid" he will interact with the younger set.  By being involved in the music program, he (and everyone involved) is getting so much more than a music education.  He is learning how to interact with others outside his social sphere.  He is learning responsibility.  He is learning teamwork.   And he is having life experiences that he will remember and share for his entire life.  You can't say that about math.  (At least I don't think you could.  If you met a stranger would you be more apt to say that you played trumpet in high school or that you struggled with 5th grade math? )

Even if he does not have the aptitude to become a professional musician (I don't know if he does or not), what he has learned and will learn, from a music education will carry him through life.  He will have life experiences that only being part of a music program allow.  (At age 10 he will have already participated in his first band and vocal music competition.  I have no idea how the groups will do, but personally I think the experience and the bonding the group as a whole is more important than any award they could bring home.)  It's been over 30 years (cringe) since I graduated from high school, yet I still have very clear memories of band camp, band competitions and band trips.  (A 25-hour bus ride to Orlando, FL will forever be embedded in my memory; even more so than performing in Sea World and marching down Main Street in Walt Disney World.)  I may not play the flute any more (ok, I do occasionally pull it out to make a point to my son), but I can still remember what songs I played in marching and concert band, as well as the ones we sang in choir.  I have a special friendship with the people that I "worked" with in band and nowhere was that more obvious than a "Music" reunion that was hosted nearly two years ago.  Initially planned as a reunion for people who were in the high school band within a 10 year span, the due to overwhelming demand, the group opened up to alums of several decades. It was an opportunity to reconnect with old friends and to easily make new ones as we had so many shared experiences as a result of the music program. It was an incredible night and there were cries for another gathering, which I know will bring an even larger group as word quickly spread of what a wonderful event it had been. I have to say it was one of the most memorable evenings I've ever had and it was all because of the school music program.

I want my son to have memories like this.  I know that the music program will provide him with a multitude of opportunities and experiences.

So while I don't want to discount math (pun only partially intended), music means more.  In the long run, music will provide him with more memories, opportunities and experiences.  It is my intention, as a family, that we all focus more on music and less on math because for us, in the long run, music IS more important.


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