The Benefits of Music in Schools

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The LHS Chorus performs at the 2022 graduation ceremony at the Mullins Center.

Abagayle Showalter, Guest Writer

It is your first day of high school and you know no one. The school is huge. The upperclassmen tower over you. You now sit at the bottom of the food chain. High School is a scary and hard time for everyone but, one friend, one class you love, and one mental break throughout the day can make the difference of a four-year experience you can’t look back fondly on. For so many students in this school, a music class might just make the difference. 

A Family Feeling

A lot of the time the social aspect of band will help them create those bonds…. It is a family feeling.”

— Kevin McAvoy

“[It is a] community,” says Ria Surreira, an LHS chorus student. When talking about the dynamic that she witnessed in chorus class. Mr. Henry the chorus teacher here at LHS added to this community feeling by stating “before the pandemic we used to have lunch together” he went on to say that people would come into other classes and they could all get work done together “it was a much more open door”  

Mr. McAvoy (the band teacher here at LHS since 2008) stated that he notices a very similar dynamic within band as well stating, “A lot of the time the social aspect of band will help them create those bonds…. It is a family feeling.”  

He then goes on to say that he has seen many kids come into band freshman year being incredibly quiet and introverted but, by the end of Senior year they are one of the most talkative kids in class, and he believes that it is the relationships and the safety of the classroom that helps them come out of their shell. 

“I’m a proud band geek” 

Band and chorus are more than just an extracurricular to take or a passion that some people have. It is a safe place, a place to find yourself. Every kind of person can come together and just share their love of music. 

“We all come together for the same thing: music.” Ria Surreira says, “We walk in knowing that it’s something we have in common.” 

Chorus is a group of people from all different cliques and popularity levels. And yet everyone comes together with a similar purpose and drive. If there is a division of students it is not coming from the chorus room, Mr. Henry says, as long as everyone is in there for the right reason.

Mr. McAvoy added a similar take, saying, “One thing that I have noticed…the label does not matter when you’re here” he added that he sees that 90% of the kids do embrace the title of band or choir kid and that many of which might not originally come around. He finishes the thought by adding that he himself is a proud band geek. 

Helpful in the Classroom

Although the social aspect of music classes are important, many people have also noticed an academic improvement from both music and band classes. Mr. McAvoy says that he has been doing music since 5th grade and had always struggled with math in school. However, he feels as though playing in a band throughout middle school helped him in math and because of this he was able to catch up with his peers. 

“I’ve always struggled with math, and work the same side of the brain needed to do math. When I started band, my math skills began to improve,” says junior Rory Divenuto further enforcing Mr.McAvoy’s idea of his own math improvement in school

And it is not just a band that seems to have academic improvements due to music classes, “Since I break down the meanings of lyrics in songs, it helps me decipher poetry in English.” Ria Surreira adds, “It also helps me to focus on my school work, and it doesn’t let my mind wander off as much.”

The idea of music improving both mathematics and English academic performance in schools is backed up by the American Psychological Association. In an article surrounding the benefits of playing an instrument especially, they write, “On average, the children who learned to play a musical instrument for many years… were the equivalent of about one academic year ahead of their peers”

The Mozart Effect

 The Mozart effect was thought of by a psychologist with the name of Francis Rauscher in 1933. He claimed that listening to Mozart’s sonata for two pianos for 10 minutes temporarily increases your focus and overall IQ. 

Although this is a widely controversial claim there are many studies that have shown this to be true among both animals and humans. There was a test done on mice in which they were divided into groups and each group was exposed to different sounds such as white noise, music from a different composer, and finally Mozart’s sonata. The group that listened to Mozart was found to complete the maze significantly faster and with fewer errors than any other group in the study. 

A Shout out to Teachers and Staff 

Music and arts are often the first to be attacked when budget cuts need to be made. However, Mr. McAvoy went on about the outstanding support of music that he sees from the teachers and staff here at Ludlow High School. Saying that they are understanding when extra practice time is needed and overall understand the importance of music in our schools as many of them play instruments outside of school.

After a recent budget scare in which three music teachers were supposed to be cut from Ludlow it was the student body (most of which were middle school band members trying to save their teacher, Mr.Allen), and the residents of Ludlow who were able to make an impact on the final decision. 

The support from teachers, staff, and all other residents of Ludlow is undoubtedly a pushing force for music and shows that it matters to more than just those who are a part of it. But, countless people see that we need music in our schools for more than just a break or even for the socialization of it. It improves academic performance and is a safe place for kids to be themselves and feel valued. 

We need music in our schools — for everyone.