Children should experience classical music

Lee's Summit JournalOctober 4, 2013 

Lee’s Summit is a community that values the arts, in a metro area increasingly praised for its performing and visual arts. We are especially blessed with both a top-notch professional symphony in Kansas City and our own very capable community orchestra, the Lee’s Summit Symphony.

An important part of the Lee’s Summit Symphony’s mission is to provide low-cost musical education opportunities. Since students are making decisions about playing an instrument in fourth and fifth grades, they will be admitted free to most concerts this year, starting with the Fall Classic Oct. 19, when accompanied by a paying adult.

With the prevalence of electronic devices and video games, many kids need to be encouraged to focus on real-life experiences such as concerts, and there is plenty of evidence that classical music has a special effect on their minds.

You may remember the “Mozart Effect” that motivated parents to introduce classical music into babies’ lives, based on evidence that it calmed them and gave mental stimulation. Two more recent studies showed that preschool children in Los Angeles, after receiving keyboard lessons, scored 34 percent higher in spatial-temporal reasoning, while students in a Wisconsin kindergarten scored 36 percent higher on similar tests after keyboard lessons.

Russ Berlin, conductor of the Lee’s Summit Symphony and a 30-year educator, said, “Research has clearly shown that musical training at an early age improves motor skills, creative thinking, and contributes to the overall educational success of students. Lee’s Summit R-7 schools have always had an excellent music department, and many of our current symphony members started in our Lee’s Summit elementary schools’ beginning music program.”

The prospect of classical music as a device for enhancing intellect and stimulating development fascinates educators, leaders and families. Since the mid-1800s, research has suggested numerous positive effects on children’s development and health. Various results including better math skills, memory, and reading skills have been tied to exposure to classical music, especially when using a broad sensory approach.

Educators recommend letting kids move to music (dance) and asking them to identify the emotions depicted in music (sadness, joy, etc.). Point out the snippets of classical music in many TV commercials and cartoons. And some of the best examples of modern classical compositions are the sound tracks that bring movies to life.

There are also many recordings recommended for children, some available online for free. With early exposure, it’s been said that children won’t think it’s un-cool until they reach their teen years.

Is there a child you should introduce to the symphony? Parents of fourth and fifth graders are encouraged to purchase their tickets at Hy-Vee or www.lssymphony.org, and bring their child Oct. 19 at no additional charge. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are just $12 for adults and $6 for any student 18 and under.

Under your guidance, this experience may lead to a life-long appreciation of this beautiful art form.

 

Carol Rothwell is a Lee’s Summit resident who serves on the Board of Directors of the Lee’s Summit Symphony Orchestra.

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