Keeping arts in the schools is important

When the school board meets and decides to cut the music program, it is because they think that it is not important or that it is the least valuable program. It is also because they are not as educated on how music is important to kids and that it is helpful to them in many ways. 

I, for one, would have been deeply impacted if I did not have band growing up. 

My whole friend group consists of band people. Not just people I have met in college but many I made in middle school and middle school. They are some of the most incredible people I have ever met and are all very musically talented. I even met my boyfriend through my involvement with band. Learning new things in school after being in band for so long was also super easy. Being in band has improved my memory. I’ve gotten better at math because there is math involved in music. I know, shocking, but it is true. There are numbers, letters and even fractions in music. 

Each piece of music has a time signature that specifies its rhythmic characteristics, such as the number of beats in each measure. A time signature has one number at the top and one at the bottom, similar to a fraction. An example is 4/4, which is four beats in one single measure. 

There are sections in sheet music called measures. Each measure in music contains an equal number of beats. They are the same as divisions of time in mathematics. Because each note and rest in music has a specific number of beats, they also have numerical relationships. Musicians must comprehend the significance of particular fractions and notes to count the music correctly. 

Even the Greeks found a correlation between music and math. Philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras discovered that varying weights and vibrations could create different sounds. This led to the discovery that the length of a vibrating string, such as one on a violin, guitar or piano, can control its pitch. The higher the pitch, the shorter the string and the lower the pitch, the longer the string. 

When struck or plucked, a string half the length of another will produce an octave-higher pitch. Splitting a string into thirds raises the pitch by an octave and a fifth. Divide it into fourths to get even higher — you get the idea. This is known as the overtone or harmonic series, and it is a physics feature that affects waves and frequencies in ways we can see and hear and ways we cannot. 

Throughout history, these mathematical ratios have helped define every intonation system. In other words, we tune our modern instruments using the mathematics discovered nearly 2,500 years ago. 

According to research, certain music pieces become more popular due to their mathematical structure. For example, because of its repetitive structure, Pachelbel’s Canon in D, which is used in many weddings each year, is said to be more popular with people. It is our innate need for rhythm and patterns as humans. That could explain why so much pop music on the radio today is repetitive. 

Students from Concordia University’s psychology department conducted a study in partnership with Robert J. Zatorre, a researcher at McGill University’s Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital. This study was put in the  ‘Journal of Neuroscience’ in 2013. 

They tested 36 musicians on a movement and scanned their brains. Half of them began playing music before they were seven, and the other half at a later age. The two groups had the same amount of musical training. 

When a motor skill was compared between the two groups, musicians who began before age seven demonstrated more accurate timing, even after only two days of practice. When comparing brain structure, musicians who started playing at a young age had more white matter in the corpus callosum, a bundle of nerve fibers that connects the brain’s left and right motor regions. The researchers discovered that the younger a musician began, the stronger the connection. 

So, school music programs are more than just playing music. It is both educational and fun. Getting rid of music programs can damage students in many ways. If music is the subject they are good at and suddenly gets taken away, it could destroy them mentally and physically. 

Header Photo: The Maverick Machine, pictured above, is the marching band on campus at Minnesota State University, Mankato. The band garners lots of excitement by promoting school spirit. The group performs at all home sports events.(Lauren Viska/The Reporter)

Write to Lauren Viska at lauren.viska@mnsu.edu

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