Why Music? Why Band?
- By Stanislav Chernyshev
“I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me – like food or water” – Ray Charles
Where would I be without music?
Growing up in St. Petersburg, Russia, I was often exposed to my city’s musical environment. My parents took me to orchestra performances, opera, and theatre. Music became a part of me. It became my passion, my profession, my life.
Why do we need music?
Music is a place for everyone. It’s a language all of us can speak. It creates memories and strong feelings. In 2009, I came to the U.S. to study. I knew very little English, and music was the only thing that helped me make new friends, to find my place in school. Music helped me to stay emotionally strong, focus on a task, and achieve my goals.
As an ArtistYear Fellow, my project is to expand the music program at South Philadelphia High School by creating an ensemble—a concert band. During my planning and preparation time, I reflect on my personal experience with music, how it has impacted my life positively, and why I believe music should be an essential component in every school.
Teamwork. Every player in the band is important and they know it. The come to the rehearsals to contribute, and to share with one another. Band teaches teamwork. It is about individual and group self-improvement, comparing results with one’s self over time.
Sense of achievement. Learning to play a piece of music is complex, multi-facetted, and can be challenging. I individually tailor the parts for each player, so students can master the music and feel proud of their achievements.
Memorization. Even when performing with sheet music, students constantly develop and use their memory to play the musical pieces. I believe that this skill serves students in education, beyond the music room.
Diversity. Shared rhythms, tunes, notes, melodies, and joy creates a common language. Music can help us to appreciate diversity and bring us together, allowing us to see the best in each other.
Discipline. Long rehearsal hours, being on time, being ready, practicing the parts. Discipline is a core component of any successful person.
Emotional development and stress. Music students can be more emotionally developed, and have higher self-esteem. I often see my students practicing their parts and getting other kids involved in the program. They show them how their instrument works and what they’ve learned. They share their experience, and shared experiences over time might build new friends and relationships.
Are music programs “extras”?
Band and choir classes are often considered “extracurricular” classes. Music is anything but “extracurricular”! Such programs enhance student’s social skills, sense of self, and self-esteem. Music teaches discipline and organization. It also teaches students the value of dedication to others and becoming part of a positive group. Collectively improves their emotional state.