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Music in the Classroom, Music at Home

Last night, despite the six inches of wet snow on the roads, I made my way to my oldest son’s high school band concert. It was a regional concert, which meant the middle school band was there, too. You know, one of the best ways to feel good about the world is to watch a group of kids ranging in age from 11 to 18 belt out the "Star-Spangled Banner" with their trumpets, oboes, flutes, snare drums, bells, and other implements of enlightenment.

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You don’t have to take it on my word. Studies have shown that learning an instrument helps children learn better in other subjects, improves test scores, boosts spatial-temporal skills that can translate into an easier time with math, and even helps with language.

There’s even evidence that music might help kids on the autism spectrum or kids who deal with mental health issues such as anxiety.

All of this is great news, but what I like best about my kids playing music is the fact that I get to listen to it. Sure, maybe it was slightly rough going in the early days—there are only so many renditions of "Three Blind Mice" one can listen to and stay sane. But at a certain point, I realized I was reminding my kids to practice not so much for their benefit, but for mine. I wanted something lovely to listen to while I cooked dinner.

You don’t have to spend oodles of money on music lessons so your kids can benefit from music. Listening to music as a family is always a cheap, fun option. Free concerts are terrific! And many public schools have music classes and programs that make learning an instrument something everyone has the opportunity to do. A lot of teachers are able to incorporate some music in the classroom, too.

Want to investigate the ways in which music can be used as a protest? Try this fun activity from our book, Music: Investigate the Evolution of American Sound!

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