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Tipitina’s Article

Hello, music enthusiasts!

My name is Daniel Garcia, and I am a music teacher in Orleans Parish in New Orleans. I moved to NOLA as a part of Teach for America, an organization that places teachers in underserved communities. I am on track to teach general music for grades PreK-2nd at Schaumburg Elementary. I am loving NOLA and my school community so far, so I want to give as much quality musical instruction as possible to my students. This is the first year Schaumburg will have music classes for grades PreK-2nd, so one of the biggest barriers for me as a music teacher is acquiring materials and instruments for students to use during music class.

In response to this, my coaches have recommended me to create a DonorsChoose for my music classes. I have been very fortunate to have received the support I have gotten so far from my hometown, my school community, and many other people. However, with a project this big, I am looking to expand who sees this project as much as possible.

It may be easy to ask yourself: “Why should students even have music at that young of an age?” While a gut reaction may be to say that students don’t need comprehensive music instruction because of how young they are, general music instruction at that age range is critical to establishing lifelong musicianship. Students are learning foundational skills, such as repeating rhythms and melodies that they hear, differentiating between musical ideas, using their body and instruments to make music, and exploring different musical styles. With this foundation, students are able to enter higher level music classes, such as band, chorus, or orchestras, without a barrier to limit their success. Furthermore, having this foundational musicianship gives students the opportunity to interact with music in their everyday lives with a better awareness and comprehension. This means that a student can hear something on the radio or Spotify and understand the types of instruments performing and even learn how to make that kind of music by ear!

Beyond music class, general music opens opportunities for learning unlike any other subject. Social-emotional learning, or SEL, is a word that has been thrown around a lot lately. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), defines SEL as:

“SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.”

Music relates to this skillset because it requires the use of both quantitative and qualitative concepts. Rhythm and pitch accuracy are quantitative, or objective, and need precise and explicit instruction to acquire. However, understanding and practicing musical concepts, such as dynamics, style, and preference, require students to think for themselves and create their own meaning. As a result, this creates the opportunity for an open discourse on both quantitative and qualitative factors. Students learn how to not only perform and create their own music, but how to collaborate and digest music with others. The music classroom is a space where students can learn without the pressures of testing. 

Music education at a young age has numerous benefits, and it goes far beyond just learning how to sing a song or play a simple tune on an instrument. It’s about laying the groundwork for a lifelong appreciation of music and fostering critical skills that will serve students well in all areas of their lives.

One of the most significant advantages of introducing music at a young age is the development of cognitive skills. Studies have shown that children who engage in music classes from an early age tend to perform better in mathematics and language arts. This is because music education enhances their ability to think critically, solve problems, and process information. When students learn to read musical notation, they are essentially decoding a new language, which sharpens their analytical skills.

Furthermore, music is a universal language that transcends cultural and linguistic boundaries. By exposing young children to various musical styles from around the world, we are promoting cultural awareness and sensitivity. Students learn to appreciate the rich diversity of global music traditions, which can lead to a broader perspective on the world and its inhabitants.

In addition to cognitive benefits, music education plays a crucial role in emotional development. It provides a safe and creative outlet for students to express their feelings and emotions. For many children, music becomes a way to cope with stress, anxiety, and other challenging emotions. It helps them build resilience and emotional intelligence, which are essential skills for success in life.

Moreover, music fosters teamwork and collaboration. In group music activities, students learn to listen to one another, coordinate their efforts, and work towards a common goal. These skills are not only valuable in music class but also in all aspects of life, from team sports to group projects in school and eventually in the workplace.

The music classroom is a unique space where students can explore their creativity without the pressure of standardized testing. It allows them to take risks, make mistakes, and learn from them. This freedom to experiment and innovate is essential for nurturing a generation of innovative thinkers and problem solvers.

Beyond the classroom, music connects students to their communities and the world. It brings people together at concerts, festivals, and cultural events, fostering a sense of unity and belonging. In New Orleans, music is deeply ingrained in the city’s culture, and it serves as a source of pride and identity for its residents. By introducing young students to music, we are not only giving them the tools to appreciate their local culture but also empowering them to engage with the broader world of music.

Creating a DonorsChoose project for my music classes is a way to ensure that students at Schaumburg Elementary have access to quality musical instruction and the necessary instruments and materials. It’s a way to bridge the gap and provide opportunities for underserved communities, where resources for arts education are often limited.

I am grateful for the support I have received so far, but there is still a long way to go in reaching my fundraising goal. Every contribution, whether big or small, makes a difference. It not only benefits the students at Schaumburg Elementary but also contributes to the overall enrichment of their lives and the community as a whole.

In conclusion, music education is not a luxury but a necessity, especially for young children. It equips them with cognitive, emotional, and social skills that will serve them throughout their lives. By supporting music education in underserved communities like Orleans Parish in New Orleans, we are investing in the future of our children and our society as a whole. I hope you will join me in this endeavor and help make quality music education accessible to all students. Together, we can create a harmonious future for the next generation. 

You can support our classroom here

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