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Today's Family Magazine

Playing an Instrument

By Ante Logarusic

There’s no doubt that we have high aspirations for our kids.  Some of us may even dream a little about them following in our footsteps to quench some unfulfilled desires.  But, when it comes down to it, we all want them to blaze their own path to success…and music just might help them along the way. 

Even if they’re not destined for the big stage, music can benefit kids in a number of ways by helping them learn about themselves as well as connect with the world around them.

Tom Ianni is owner of Academy Music in Cleveland Heights which has been in business for 64 years and currently serves 15 music programs in the area.  He’s seen firsthand that music is a positive outlet for kids to be able to express themselves.  

“Kids need more outlets for having fun and building friendships,” says Ianni, “Oftentimes, the people we remember most from our childhood are those in music classes and sports activities.”

Music is social. The benefits of playing music can be a game changer during your child’s school years.  Justin was a somewhat shy 11-year-old attending Eastlake Middle School when his father introduced him to the guitar.  After 1.5 years of lessons and a lot of dedicated practice, Justin tried out for a local teen rock band and played in his first High School Rock Off in eighth grade.  Through playing music, he gained confidence to be in front of a crowd, learned an appreciation of many genres of music, and always had great lead-in when meeting new people throughout high school, college and even now in his professional career in finance. It was a gift that keeps on giving.

Music helps kids develop confidence and raise self-esteem by setting achievable goals which they can conquer at their own pace.  Music also instills discipline.  Learning to play an instrument requires practice, dedication, and repetition.  Having the ability to develop focusing skills translates to other areas of life, especially academics. 

Music is a personal activity but is also a team activity.  Just like sports, a good band relies on all of its members to play their position.  Each individual has to learn their part, practice independently, and come together as a team.  

Music soothes.  According to one local psychologist, one in three children experience some form of anxiety and the same number experience excessive sadness and depression.  Getting involved with music can be one way of bringing joy to one’s young life as well as connecting with others and forming friendships that can last throughout the school years and beyond. 

Music can be life-changing.  Ianni related the story of one particular student that stood out to him was a shy flute and vocal student. Through relentless practice and study, he overcame his shyness and sharpened his performance skills.  Today, the student is an accomplished flutist and jazz saxophonist who found his way in music education to become an outstanding conductor and teacher who has shared his love of music with hundreds of students throughout his career.

One other local student changed his course of study as a result of music   Will played double bass in regional and state orchestras throughout high school but had his mind set on a career as an astrophysicist.  One day, however, he confided in his parents that he had “found his people.” NASA’s loss was the classical world’s gain because after achieving his masters degree, he is currently pursuing his career as an orchestral musician. 

Jim Temple, owner of Arrowhead Music in Mentor, agrees that music is a positive extracurricular outlet for students that can lead to a lifetime love of learning.  Many of the parents who took lessons at Arrowhead back in the ’90s reflect on those experiences when bringing their own children to the store.

“We often hear of former students starting local bands as well as some who have gone on to college to study music,” says Temple.  “One of our students got involved at a young age, went through private lessons, high school band, got a college scholarship, and is now in his masters program.”

Music is affordable. Although accessibility and the definition of affordability can vary, the cost of participation is attractive when compared to other extracurricular activities.  Instead of purchasing them new, great used instruments can be found or rented until you’re sure you’ve found the right instrument for your child.  Lessons are typically week to week and don’t require a commitment or enrollment fee.  Although there is no substitute for face-to-face learning with an instructor, a variety of learning tools and lessons can also be found online at little or no cost.

Last but not least, music is fun. Giving your kids the gift of playing music is something that will reward them for the rest of their lives.