In 5th grade, my mom picked the alto saxophone for me to play in the band. She had always wanted to play, and this was the closest she was going to get. My dad had played the trombone long enough in school, but never played it for us. I continued to play the alto saxophone in the classroom along with piano lessons with neighbor lady even when I had to practice the upright piano in the coldest room of the house through junior high school. Then my mom couldn't afford the piano lessons for my brothers and me, so we got to drop piano. But, my junior high band director saw fit to change me during concert season to bassoon. Yep, I have huge hands and am sturdy enough to haul that huge machine around. I learned the base clef very well after a bit of practice at it on the piano. I ended up getting a bassoon scholarship when I applied to a nearby state school for a major in music education. There weren't that many of us and we were valuable enough to spend some scholarship money on us. Besides that money, I'd have found it difficult to pay for college on my own.
I'd also been employed to sing in school and church. I was trained by a very capable man who, to this day, I'm grateful for because he arranged for me to audition for that scholarship at the state university and who constantly encouraged me to do more with music. He was my vocal and choir teacher from 5th grade to graduation. He is incredibly talented and I knew that if he said I could do anything, then I could probably do anything. And there wasn't a struggle for me or my brothers to participate in band or choir. I don't remember even facing a decision where I had to challenge my mom about it. The piano lessons, yes, but those were expensive private lessons that she found difficult paying for while she was also paying for braces and other things. Therefore, I'm THANK God for the opportunity to sing and perform various music even after graduating from high school. I didn't finish with a degree in music education, but I did sing with a Christian choir and orchestra that traveled throughout the United States, thus allowing me to travel to more than 40 states. And, I have an intense sense of rhythm and spatial awareness that comes from all those hours with music.
So, when one of my friends asks if I will continue to support my kids playing in the home school band or singing at church, I tell them that it's too important and this music training needs to take precedence. This needs to take enough precedence that I plan to choose this place to make my stand over other things like cleaning their rooms or doing their laundry. Music training will help them to learn how to cooperate with others. It will teach them to be determined to accomplish something. Music participation will improve their peripheral vision (useful in all of life while you have your sight and even after you loose your sight - you can feel what's going on around you). It will, if they sing in an ensemble, teach them to make pronouncing of sounds easy or even fun during language learning later (ever tried Arabic? There are some sounds in that I've learned from music training.) According to the recording I heard from Mr. Pudewa at IEW, music strengthens both sides of the brain making math easier. Music has taught me a great deal about cultures both where I sang and what music I sang. Cultural familiarity with classical music might be helpful in some venue during their lifetimes. I've met great friends because of music. And finally, because I've thought and thought but reserve the right to come up with more reasons, music gives me and my kids an innate sense of rhythm for dancing, walking, running and more. Rhythm is not to be undervalued. Those that got it, got it. And those that ain't, well God loves them anyway. And that's what I've got to say about it ;-) T-A-N-G-O