AP NEWS

Teachers highlight value of students learning to read music

March 11, 2019

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — Music teacher Beverly Pierce says music is an international language if one learns to read it.

“My daughter’s friend is a piano player from Czechoslovakia,” Pierce, who has taught music for 44 years — including six years at Nettleton School District, said to The Jonesboro Sun.

The friend’s music came from the Eastern European country, but because of music, there was no language barrier.

“I could give her my music and she could give me her music,” she said.

Music not only spans across other countries, but it incorporates other subjects, too.

“It crosses science, math, language, history and it also covers physical education,” Pierce said. “You learn to use your breathing. It’s like when you’re running. You need your breath to keep going.”

She said teaching music to children helps with math because of the number of vibrations per second that produce pitches and the length of time for those pitches.

It helps with physical education for not only the breathing aspect, but it helps with posture, and children learn how to keep their voices in good shape. Pierce said it’s called “vocal health.”

She said music helps cover history, including learning about spiritual music that came from when Americans owned slaves, music that originated from Vietnam War protesters, and Civil War music.

Pierce said it also helps with learning foreign language, noting third-graders at Nettleton STEAM are preparing to present “The Lion King.” The Zulu language is used in that production.

She said it is important students learn music in school.

“It’s something they’ll learn and hear all their lives,” Pierce said.

Jeremy Carter, choir teacher at Valley View Junior High School, said students involved in music classes usually can make new friends they have not met before.

“Usually they develop deeper relationships, greater friendships,” he said. “They’ve been through an experience. They know certain hardships, and it makes them better friends overall.”

Carter said music links all core subjects — English, math, science and social studies — together.

“At all grade levels, students who have music education typically perform better in core classes than if they didn’t have it,” he said.

Carter said music is introduced to students during art and physical education and is one part of the English curriculum at Valley View. He said song, rhythm and math go into the beat. He said choir helps with a student’s reading level because of the amount of lyrics that originate from famous poets.

“The avenue art gives kids is super important,” he said.

Carter said music is often utilized to calm students who are in stressful situations. It is also used as background music to calm those with different disorders.

He said students can also earn music scholarships.

“It usually helps students with scholarships because they have more things on their college transcript to show extracurricular activities,” Carter said.

Kasey Edwards, former student at Jonesboro who is now a choir teacher at Annie Camp Junior High School, said her music classes were a personal experience.

“I was going through a rough time,” she said about when she attended MacArthur Junior High School. “My choir teacher was the only person who asked about my family. Choir became a second home to me.”

Edwards said she felt safe there. It was an environment where she could show her creativity and not be judged.

She said she teaches at Jonesboro school district because she wanted to come back and give back to the students.

Edwards said she has seen her students gain a lot of confidence.

“In junior high school students are finding their way and figuring out who they are,” she said. “Music fosters creativity. Students realize with hard work, talent and the right guidance they can really be somebody and achieve great things.”

She said the confidence boost students past music and into academics.

“It’s a boost to the confidence in who they are and goes across the board,” Edwards said.

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Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, http://www.jonesborosun.com