The headline caught my attention: Music is a lesson in “Yes, you can” By the way, I liked headlines better when they looked like headlines, not a sentence that someone forgot to punctuate. But I digress.
The headline was for a column in The Dallas Morning News written by Tracy Begland, a freelance writer and volunteer at the school her kids attend, shared some heartwarming stories about band and choir and music and how kids benefit from the experience. One girl who was not performing well in an elementary school music program, started to improve after the teacher took time to talk to her outside of class to see what the problem was. Later the girl told the teacher all she needed was a little encouragement.
Another teacher encouraged a mediocre singer by putting her in the top choir and the girl rose to the challenge. She never became the best singer, but she became a better singer and took great pride in that and herself.
Perhaps the most touching story Tracy related was about a boy with cerebral palsy. The middle school band teacher was warned by the elementary music teacher that Bill might be too much of a challenge in the more structured middle school program and perhaps it would be better if Bill’s parents were encouraged to remove him from the band program. The middle school teacher didn’t notify the parents and accepted the boy into the band. By the end of middle school, Bill showed some physical improvement. His drooling decreased, his fingers worked independently, and he was able to speak more clearly.
When I worked as a hospital chaplain, I routinely provided music in the rehab department. They had a room where out-patient therapy clients recovering from head trauma would gather in between sessions and they would have lunch together. I would come with my guitar once a week, and we would sing after lunch for an hour. I did not realize at first that I was doing more than bringing a little fun and good cheer, but the head of the program told me that the music was benefiting the patients physiologically. The music was helping their brains to make new synoptic connections to compensate for those that were broken.
Just like Bill. And I guess that is why this column resonated so with me.
Kudos to all the teachers who take the time and make the effort to help and encourage kid who most need it.