Friday, March 23, 2012

Parenting Articles | Does Music Make Children Smarter?

During Music In Our Schools Month, musicians raise awareness of impact of music education on lives of students.

Can playing the piano strengthen a child’s reading and math skills? Can joining a school band be a catalyst for building self-confidence? Does one develop strong analytical abilities by taking violin lessons? Some music experts say yes.

"Every minute that you’re engaged in music, you’re applying more than one concept or one knowledge," said Dr. Kevin Strogher, Head of Music at The Heights School in Potomac, Md. "Music develops analytical thinking because it requires students to be creative. They don't just regurgitate memorized facts. They have to apply those facts."

March is Music in Our Schools Month and some music aficionados are trying to raise awareness about impact of music education on the lives of students. The National Association of Music Education in Reston cites a strong body of evidence which shows that participation in musical activities can enhance a student's education. "For today's students to succeed tomorrow, they need a comprehensive education that includes music taught by exemplary music educators," said Elizabeth Lasko, assistant executive director. "Music In Our Schools Month gives music teachers the chance to … let everyone know how learning music benefits kids, and how it contributes to their growth and development both as students and as future adult citizens."

Instructors say playing music can boost brain power. "Music helps build and develop cognitive skills because you have to do three or four things at the same time to perform music," said Holly Vesilind, music instructor at Westgate Elementary School in Falls Church and a private flute instructor in Fairfax. "It builds math skills because it involves counting and fractions.

Experts say music activities can affect social development. "Music ensembles work much like team sports, students learn the necessity of teamwork and collaboration," said Dr. James Criswell, director of the Middle School advanced band and Upper School wind ensemble and orchestra at St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School in Alexandria.

Strogher dispels the notion that the discipline attracts social misfits. "It is not just the choir geeks or the band nerds," he said. "When [The Heights Men’s Chorus] was performing in Austria recently, we had the [school’s] best lacrosse player with us, we had baseball players, basketball players. In fact, most of our top athletes are also in the music program. It is actually a cool thing to be in music." read more

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Parenting Articles | Smaller Classes Don’t Necessarily Make a Difference

An era of austerity is a poor time to be demanding much of anything.

In B.C., the province’s teachers are the latest public-sector union to be discovering this. There’s no money for wage increases. There’s no money for extra time off. And there’s certainly no money for reducing class sizes – an issue that has sparked contentious debate in recent days.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation believes that class size is fundamental to quality education. The fewer kids in the classroom, the better the learning environment for students – or so the argument goes. read more

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