Saturday, August 16, 2014

Music, Practice, Life

*Posted originally on the site. Moved here and post dated.

This family grabbed a bunch of instruments. What happened next will BLOW YOUR MIND!

Ok, not really, but I was dying to try a click bait.

Last weekend we had an unusual show for our band which required working out some old and new music to fill in extra material since the venue requested no cover tunes (music licensed by another artist) and no intermission. This meant we needed to learn/revive a few lesser performed originals or traditional tunes, as well as those we sometimes do in order to stagger breaks for the various musicians in the group.

 So, we practiced.

That show was also one of the first in a run that included 7 shows in 9 days. Guess what we were doing during all of that extra practice and those many performances?

 We were building BRAINS, baby!


 Actually, we fought off whining. (Shhh... talented band kids don't do that, right?)

 In truth, one does not necessarily exclude the other. Those in the group under about, oh, 39ish (give or take) are not fond of 2 hour shows without breaks, but as their father and I pointed out, that's only because they never flipped burgers for 8 hours with a short lunch and only 2 breaks. So, although musical discipline does not guarantee rejoicing in all things, I still see the benefits every day in other areas.

Outside of musical talent, which I firmly believe is only a small part natural talent, mixed with a whole lot of musical exposure and practice, I have shockingly average kids. No early readers in the lot. In fact they were all fairly late readers by modern expectations. All are, at best, average in math, no spelling champions, and no NFL quarterbacks in the mix. In fact, none of them are unusually motivated or driven in any area, except perhaps Sean, and that's in astronomy, and then only if he's not allowed to play minecraft at that moment.

 Somewhere along the line the first two of my late bloomers in reading became not only excellent readers, but they analyze written work and write their own novels, often a few each year. (Editing and publishing are another story, but Alex is working on it.) In fact, a child I almost had formally tested for attention deficit, audio processing, and cross dominance issues now frequently gets up at 6am and puts herself through self-designed drawing exercises with strange goals, such as "Draw 100 heads on Tuesday". Of all the therapies that could have turned her learning difficulty around so dramatically, it was a BANJO that ultimately did it.

Then there is the fiddle player... Naw, I'll spare you that one since the jury is still out on the balance of music vs. the video game! Check back in about 6-7 more years and we'll see where the balanced tipped.

DSCF3234Research has told us how much music changes the learning brain. I've been conducting my own little research for the last two decades and the results are definitely astounding. Even if none of the kids further their professional careers beyond the band, and even if they never do learn how much easier a two hour show is compared to flipping burgers, the musical training will have positively shaped so much of their future, and for that opportunity, we are truly thankful.  

"Got time to breathe, got time for music." ~Briscoe Darling on the Andy Griffith Show

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