Here is article I wrote for Edmontons Child Magazine. I was asked to write it for MacEwan University’s Conservatory of Music.
The Power of Music
March 1st, 2016
By Ron Long
There is something about singing that is so magical. It calms us down, makes us feel connected, cheers us up. It also challenges our brains to memorize, and make connections between text and music. Through breathing deeper and exhaling slower, you become aware of your body. You learn to express yourself emotionally through music. You learn to focus and multitask on a very high level. The list goes on and on.
Music and singing have enriched my life immeasurably and have given me a unique perspective on life and how to be happy. I derive the most pleasure from teaching music and singing. It has been a wonderful gift for me to share and help others realize their dreams. I have seen the transforming power of singing first hand with students who begin their lesson weighed down by the stress in their life, and then after one hour of singing, leave with a bounce in their step.
It seems that every month, there are new studies talking about the benefits of studying music and singing, like getting better grades, being more emotionally balanced and happier socially. Take singing in a choir for example. You contribute a sound that is coming out of you and share it with a larger group. You learn to work with others, project your voice, and be creative. The benefits are endless!
I watched my nephew struggle with ADHD as a youngster and feel separated from the larger group. Then he started drumming lessons and learned the marimba. He has since won competitions and is now one of the strongest members of his school band program. He has been recognized and is a part of a group, all while learning to focus, read music, and perform in front of others. Learning music has given him confidence and an identity in high school.
Over the years, I have had parents thank me for mentoring their child, getting them through a crisis, or just being an adult they could talk to. A music lesson represents a once-a-week, one-on-one time with an adult. I have had young people walk in and I can tell that something is wrong. Singing when you are emotional is a very difficult thing to do. As you start to breathe, all the pent up emotions can’t be held back anymore. After telling me what is wrong, they feel better and the lesson moves on. This is very powerful for young people and extremely beneficial.
So if your child isn’t into sports (though that is important too), put them in music lessons! Get them an inexpensive guitar or an electric piano to start. Put them in a children’s choir. Edmonton has one of the strongest choral communities in North America! MacEwan University’s Conservatory of Music has a Music in Early Childhood Program for young children! We also offer private instruction on voice and any instrument. Music is the gift that keeps giving back your whole life. Learning the skills early just puts you that much further ahead in enjoying one of life’s greatest pleasures!
Ron Long is an instructor of Vocal Music at the MacEwan University Conservatory of Music and Theatre Arts program. He has a Masters of Music in Opera and Musical Theatre from the University of Southern Illinois. He can be reached at Conservatory@MacEwan.ca.