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The Power Of Music – Jennifer Oaten

I am sure you have all heard of Beethoven, a legendary musician and composer. This week, it has been 200 years since he composed one of his pieces, the 9th Symphony. Beethoven began losing his hearing in his mid-20s after he had built a reputation as an excellent musician and composer. This hearing loss threatened to cut short his growing career. Deafness could have silenced his music, but it didn’t. Faced with challenges, he composed some of the most beautiful and powerful pieces of music the world has ever known. Imagine directing an orchestra that you can’t hear. This is something Beethoven did. His deafness was not a barrier; it helped him develop a deeper understanding of music and its possibilities. Beethoven’s perseverance teaches us that if you have passion, you can achieve anything you set your mind to, no matter what obstacles you face in the world of music or in life.

Perseverance is one of the benefits that Beethoven gained from his involvement in music, but there are many other benefits for young people who are involved in music.

Music resonates deeply within the halls of Santa Maria College, echoing the rich legacy of the Sisters of Mercy, whose musical talents have long inspired our community. As a community, we greatly value music and what it provides for our students. Our College music calendar serves as a celebration of the passion and talent of Santa Maria students. Our recent Semester 1 Music Concert showcased the immense talent of our musicians. The concert featured students from Years 5 – 12 in choirs, bands, ensembles and our orchestra performing a range of items. At our Rock Ya Socks Off concert earlier in the year, student bands brought their individual flair and style to the stage, creating an exhilarating atmosphere. These and other musical performances provide students valuable opportunities to refine their skills and gain experience performing in front of an audience.

But why study music? Why learn piano as many of our students do? Why be part of a choir or facilitate your daughter learning the drums or violin? The noise, the cost and the impact on the lives of family members.

The reason is the incredible benefits that music brings into the lives of our students far outweigh the challenges.

Benefits of Music

Music is not just a source of entertainment, it also offers several benefits worth considering. Below are four important advantages to keep in mind.

1. Building a sense of belonging

Music has a great power for bringing people together.” With so many forces in this world acting to drive wedges between people, it is important to preserve those things that help us experience our common humanity.” 

A passion for music forms the basis of some of the great friendships that our girls form through being part of our music community. Being part of a choir, band, or orchestra requires teamwork. In these groups, students will learn how to collaborate. Each student is relied on by others to do their best, helping them to develop self-confidence and to feel valued for their talents. When people with different backgrounds and perspectives come together to make music, they build more diverse communities. Music has an incredible ability to bring people together. Whether it is dancing to the beat of the music, singing along to the lyrics, or simply basking in the crowd’s energy, music brings people together in many ways.

2. Promoting positive wellbeing

A comprehensive meta-ethnography of 46 studies with over 2,000 participants worldwide found that active music engagement significantly bolsters mental health. The review identified four key ways music supports wellbeing:

  • Managing and expressing emotions
  • Facilitating self-development
  • Providing respite from stress
  • Fostering social connections

These findings underscore the profound impact of music on the mental and emotional wellbeing of students. Music engagement, whether active or passive, has been linked to enhanced quality of life, improved mood and emotional regulation, and greater social connectedness. Experts liken the mental health benefits of music to the positive effects of exercise.

Schools can effectively support students’ mental health and foster emotional resilience by providing students with opportunities to engage with music. Music is a vital tool for self-expression, reflection, and regulation – making it a cornerstone for nurturing student wellbeing. Music has the potential to energise how we feel or calm us in times of anxiety and stress. Boosting our mood and helping to monitor and manage our own emotions also helps students process and express their emotions. Music may be calming, making us feel more positive or be comforted by our favourite songs during difficult times. Music is a great way to release stress, unwind, and, most importantly, have fun.

3. Encouraging excellence

Music students are required to set aside time to practice if they are to master their instrument. This increases the capacity to perform tasks that require sustained commitment and attention. The desire for high standards of performance encourages commitment. This desire can be applied to all subjects they study and encourages perseverance, resilience and a drive for excellence.

Performing a musical piece for an audience can be daunting, but doing so teaches students how to take risks and deal with nerves. These opportunities help them build pride and confidence in themselves. The intrinsic value of music and the personal satisfaction it creates cannot be overestimated. The exhilaration felt after performing in front of a large audience is something many students feel and helps them bring excellence into other areas of their lives.

4. Improving academic outcomes

According to a study published in the Psychology of Music, students exposed to music training have improved working memory and attention spans. This is because music stimulates different areas of the brain, which can enhance cognitive abilities. This is believed to be because the brain has to work harder to process complex sounds and rhythms, which can help improve cognitive abilities. Music also encourages students to tap into their creative potential by experimenting with sounds and melodies. This can help young people develop their imagination, benefiting their academic studies. Playing music can also improve hand-eye coordination which helps the development of other skills such as writing.

We firmly believe that music education can have a profound impact on building a sense of belonging, promoting positive wellbeing, encouraging excellence and improving academic outcomes, which is why we are so passionate about providing an inclusive space where students can explore and express themselves through the magic of music.

Our Music staff are dedicated to equipping students with the knowledge and skills they need to reach their full potential – whether they are hoping to become professional musicians or simply using music as a way to enrich their lives. 

As Paul Kinsella, our Head of Music said,

“When working towards a performance, it seems insurmountable to begin, but they focus on achieving small goals at each rehearsal to develop skills until the emotions change from being daunting to being exciting. This skill helps students break down challenges in their lives into smaller, achievable goals."

Parents can be more confident than ever that an investment of time, effort and money in music lessons or your daughter’s commitment to a choir, band or ensemble will enable her to thrive.

Music education is an invaluable and essential part of education for young people and is at the heart of our community.

Never underestimate the joy that engaging in music can bring not only to the musician but to the audience for whom they perform. It is never too late to learn an instrument or join a choir! There may be a budding Beethoven among us.

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