Musical Life: Every Child Should Have the Opportunity to Learn Music – speech by Geoff Peters

Geoff from gives a speech to Best Run Toastmasters club on the topic of the importance of music education for young people.

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Use of music? Music is everywhere. Popular movies, videos, commercials, TV, concerts, restaurants, elevators, night clubs, on the street, in our headphones, in offices, at the beach.

Music is fun! Music is great entertainment. Playing music is so much fun. (When I worked at Nokia, managers had a rock band.)
If our children are not given the opportunity to learn how to play or appreciate music, they will have less fulfilling lives.

1. What is music? Why is it important?
What is music? “an art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color.” —
Why is music important? — Regulate emotions. Memory. Improve performance. “listening to music (even when we listen passively) activates many psychological functions (emotion, memory, attention, imagery and so on).” — 2008 Journal of Biology article by Lutz Jäncke. How music affects the brain — forming new pathways.

“recovery of verbal memory and focused attention improved significantly in the group of patients who listened to their favorite music on a daily basis compared with the patients who listened to audio books or received no listening material (control group). Besides the improvement in cognitive functions, there was also a substantial mood improvement in the patients who listened to music (they were less depressed and less confused) compared with the control group.”

2. Benefits of Studying Music
Learning an instrument builds essential skills of discipline, hard work, mastery, incremental progress, creative expression, enjoyment in life, social opportunities
Being open to new cultures — world music.
Playing music: Freedom to express one’s self – Voice — singing.
Benefits of learning a musical instrument

Benefit of studying music at a young age: self esteem/confidence, self-discipline, creativity and innovation, self expression, creating community, keeping people engaged.

Skill at listening / similar to Toastmasters, listening is the other side of the coin for speaking / creating.
Popularity of the game Rock Band in recent years.

3. Problem with schools music programs
Currently not all schools in Canada provide a strong music program for our children.
Problem is that schools are not devoting enough money to the study of the arts.
In a 2010 study, two most important challenges in music education in Canadian schools are Lack of Funding and lack of time.

Also a key to a successful music program in a school is to have a specialist music teacher dedicated to running the program. In 2010 survey, 94% of schools in Canada which have a strong music program also have a specialist music teacher.

With advances in technology such as Garageband and affordable instruments, the ability to create and appreciate music have become more accessible to many people. But if we don’t have strong, well funded music programs in our schools, many children will miss out on a lifetime of Enjoyment through playing or appreciating diverse music.
What can you do? Talk to you child’s school about getting your child involved in the music program. Offer your child music lessons, band camps, instruments.

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