View our Contest Winners
Music Showcase announces its winners for the March Music In Our Schools Month Contest. We do want to congratulate all the participants for their dedication, hard work, and creativity in expressing what music in school means to them. The student winner and their teacher will receive gifts cards to Music Showcase. The National Association for Music Education is celebrating its 36th year of Music In Our Schools Month. It’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate the very best of what’s happening musically in classrooms across our area. Music education is known for helping children build their self-esteem, improve their math and listening skills, and boost creativity. Congratulations to our winners, the participants, and their teachers.
Elementary School (Grades 1 - 5)
Middle School (Grades 6 - 8)
High School (Grades 9 - 12)
The metallic thud of my body against the lockers echoed throughout the hallway. A group of boys surrounded me screaming faggot in my face. I had finally come to terms with my sexuality, and yet, I expected the world to come to terms with me. I was so naïve.
Starting middle school is the first big leap a kid takes growing up. A new school provided me with a blank page and fresh faces to learn about. Why waste such an opportunity? I began introducing myself to my fellow classmates, and soon I was surrounded by a group of friends. I felt safe in my new environment, and I started to open up about myself. The first step forward was recognizing my sexuality. I was inherently attracted to the same sex. I knew that it was an unchangeable trait that defined my identity, so I decided to express those feelings to my friends. The outcome was immediate isolation. I was shunned, laughed at, and harassed. I was told that I was a sinner, and that I would go to hell for such a foul characteristic. My heart was ripped out, and I was left to walk alone in the hallways as my form of atonement. Although I thought my happiness had met its end, I was introduced to a new source of life- music.
I joined band halfway through my 6th grade year. The idea of being surrounded by so many unique instruments fascinated me. I vividly remember the day we all chose what instrument we would learn. It was a challenging process, yet so simple at its core, for one section was calling out to me. The percussion seemed to have a trait that I emotionally lacked: it was its own heartbeat, and the band relied on it to move forward. I followed my gut, and I chose to learn percussion through middle school and later through high school. I never knew that this decision would save me in more ways than I could have done alone.
As I progressed in music, I learned how it was a connection to our emotions and spirit. I played piece after piece, and each song put me into another world. I began to use music to express my own emotions, and I was able to recognize the sadness pouring out of my body. I realized that in order to move beyond this depression, I needed to redefine my own happiness, and that I needed to create the love I lacked within myself. I started slowly playing pieces of my own liking, sitting in the band room for hours, or on my piano all night letting my heart speak its truth. I noticed a new bond within myself: a desire to keep pursuing music, and a desire to keep moving in life.
I continued playing music every day in school, replenishing the pulse I needed to keep moving forward. I didn’t stop there, however, I decided I wanted to regain complete control of my life, and I auditioned for Drum Major. The position relies on having an internal tempo, and therefore a steady spirit. After successfully acquiring the spot, I found myself standing on the marching podium, looking across hundreds of musicians before me. Initially I worried over the thought of how others may look at me now in front of them, but when I lifted my hands and began conducting my song, I recognized that I had regained control of my life. I am the pulse I need.
Why Music Classes are Important to a Student’s Success
Walking into the music room at school is an incomparable experience. It somehow feels so much different from the rest of the school, with its comfortable atmosphere and air of comradery. It’s the feeling of knowing that, just by walking into the classroom, you no longer are forced to worry about the exhausting daily routine of school. For just an hour, you can escape and do what you love: make music. Music is something so special in society. It has the power to bring communities together and help people discover their true identities. If anything has been proven by this terrible year and the pandemic it brought, it has been the overwhelming power of unity that music possesses. However, there have been ever-growing trends of these programs in schools (and their directors) being cut due to budgetary problems, as well as a lack of interest. This is troubling, as music classes have been shown to have fantastic benefits, in both academics and in one’s social aptitude. These benefits are so lucrative that all students, at some point in their academic careers, should be required to take a music class.
Due to an array of proven academic benefits, taking music courses has been shown to make a great impact on a student’s performance in conventional “core” classes. One may not realize it, but those who sing or play an instrument must be able to read written music. Written music is comparable to learning a language, due to the common characteristics of music and spoken language, as well as the assortment of symbols and terms present in both. “Both music and the written language involve formal notation read from left to right; music notation consists of symbols that represent information about sound (pitch, harmony, melody) and time (rhythm, meter), and listening to both music and speech requires attention to the temporal order of rapidly changing acoustic events” (Forgeard). Just like in using a language, in music there are many things to be noticed, whether they be symbols that signify the volume or tempo, notate pitches, or how to deliver a certain section. To be able to accurately follow these directions, musicians must be able to think quickly and proactively. Making music is no mindless task, and the deep level of thinking required has been shown to translate over into the classroom. In fact, “The students who learned to play a musical instrument in elementary and continued playing in high school not only score significantly higher, but were about one academic year ahead of their non-music peers concerning their English, mathematics, and science skills, as measured by their exam grades, regardless of their socioeconomic background, ethnicity, prior learning in mathematics and English, and gender” (Taking Music Classes Could Provide Academic Edge). While not being an explicitly academia-based class, music electives still provide numerous benefits in that field. Opponents of them may argue that they detract from academics, but the prolonged use of critical thinking and careful attention in music is something that carries over into other classes that are deemed more important.
Alongside having benefits to a student’s academic skills, music classes also provide numerous social benefits. ” (…) studies have established that people find it very satisfying to synchronize with one another. That increases affiliation within the group and may even make people like each other more than before. Other subjects in the school do not have as intensive training in synchrony and coordination as music lessons, which could explain part of the phenomenon” (Peard). Harmony is what gives music life, and in order to create it within a group, musicians must be able to stay in time with their fellow members. They learn to listen to the people around them and anticipate what their next move will be. This sense of following other people and listening deeply carries over to a person’s personal social life, as those skills are necessary in developing good relationships. “Music can enhance awareness of others (through musical performance, and group composition), self-confidence (through the ability to perform in front of others), physical coordination and self-discipline (through instrumental practice), The development of these skills will help to propel students into the real world and workplace” (Peard). Another major aspect of participating in music programs is performing. Performing in front of people is a looming feat that takes huge amounts of courage. However, doing this beside a group of friends forges a strong, unbreakable bond. Through exposure to an environment focused on teamwork, students will gain many social benefits when taking a music class.
Even with the obvious benefits of these classes, “a surprising amount of people hold the opinion that music is ‘just noise’ and inessential to performing well in school. Claims that students waste too much time on practicing or the time spent on music trips takes away from where kids really need to be: the classroom” (The Most Common Arguments Against Music Education). However, this isn’t necessarily true as music has been shown to improve academic progress by a significant amount, “The researchers found an association between higher levels of music engagement (more courses) and higher exam scores on all subjects” (Taking Music Classes Could Provide Academic Edge). As previously stated, students train their brains to be able to think deeper and wider when practicing music and are in turn able to use that in their academics.
Music classes are constantly at threat of disbandment and funding cuts. It is not fair to all of the educators and students, these musicians who put so much effort and care into the music they create. More people must begin joining, acknowledging, and appreciating these classes to save them from extinction. There are so many ways: attending concerts, participating in fundraisers, supporting friends that are in the programs. It just takes some time that may end up saving a student’s life. Society must begin putting more effort into doing whatever it can do to help these programs remain running and recruiting new students. So many rely on these classes. They have the power to change a student’s life, to give them a purpose. That shouldn’t be taken away. The world needs more harmony. Let them provide it.