The Halls are Alive With the Sound of Music

<b>The Halls are Alive With the Sound of Music</b>“></td>
<td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – As students purchase No. 2 pencils and notebooks, parents and teachers might want to think about putting something else on back-to-school lists — musical instruments.

Numerous studies demonstrate that musical education benefits children both in and out of the classroom. One study from Columbia University found that students in the arts are more cooperative with teachers and peers, more self-confident and better able to express their ideas. Students in music programs show higher IQs than their peers, and art programs have been proven to boost critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.

A study by Patricia Shehan Campbell, Ph.D., of the University of Washington examined essays by 1,155 teenagers on school music programs. The essays revealed that music gives teens the freedom to be themselves, as well as a creative and emotional outlet.

With music programs being cut across the country, independent organizations are working hard to help students access musical educations. For example, NAMM, the 109-year-old trade association of the international music products industry, has launched the non-profit Wanna Play Fund (www.nammfoundation.org) to support programs and activities that strengthen music education in schools. Endorsed by Mike Huckabee, a bass player and former governor of Arkansas, the Wanna Play Fund uses donations to fund community-based music programs and provide musical instruments to schools.

Another NAMM-sponsored program, SchoolJam USA, encourages teenagers to form bands through a unique, all-teen battle-of-the-bands competition. Amateur bands with members aged 13-19 compete to win prizes and musical instruments for their band, funding for their school music programs and the chance to perform live at the SchoolJam USA Finals in Anaheim, Calif.

The 2010 winner, a band called After Math, won $5,000 for its schools’ music programs, a trophy in the shape of a platinum album and a grand-prize trip to Europe to perform at the international 2010 SchoolJam finals in Frankfurt, Germany. Kids can take this opportunity to form their own bands and get involved in the contest. Teen bands can sign up for the 2011 SchoolJam USA competition after August 2nd, 2010, at www.schooljamusa.com.

Give the Gift of Musical Instruments This Holiday Season

<b>Give the Gift of Musical Instruments This Holiday Season</b>“></td>
<td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – In this day and age, where gifts are forgotten in favor of the next “new thing” almost as soon as they’re unwrapped, choosing meaningful gifts can prove challenging. Giving a gift of experience, however, will last a lifetime. And few experiences prove more meaningful than a musical education.

The vast majority of people wish that they could play a musical instrument. According to a 2009 Gallup poll conducted by NAMM, the trade association of the international music products industry, 85 percent of the Americans who do not play musical instruments wish that they could.

And no wonder. Not only does music offer a fun personal outlet, but study after study reports its benefits. Infants who are sung to are more content, sleep better and have an overall better sense of well-being than other babies. In schoolchildren, a musical education can improve performance in other areas of study. In one study, children who received one year of musical training demonstrated improved memory. Art programs help children develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.

Don’t think that music’s benefits diminish with age. Playing an instrument helps adolescents and teenagers cope with peer pressure, substance abuse, academic stress and loss.

Music helps everyone, even boomers over age 45. For workers, playing music reduces stress and helps alleviate depression. For seniors, music improves health and wellness while providing a recreational and social outlet.

So, what’s the best way to give the gift of music to a loved one? NAMM suggests purchasing a musical instrument -; the gift will provide a lifetime of enrichment. Arranging music lessons is another meaningful gift. Consider purchasing a gift certificate for music lessons, either in lieu of or along with a musical instrument. To find music lessons near you, use the Lesson Locator, a database of lesson providers and stores at www.wannaplaymusic.com.

Music Helps Students Excel in School, Life

<b>Music Helps Students Excel in School, Life</b>“></td>
<td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – According to the Center on Education policy, No Child Left Behind’s emphasis on reading and math has caused many schools to cut back on other areas, including science, social studies, art, music, gym, lunch and recess. But cutting back on music education may leave students at a disadvantage in reading and math.

Parents should consider music education’s benefits when they help their children choose classes and activities throughout the school year. According to the College Entrance Examination Board, students in music appreciation score on average 63 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on math when they take the SAT. A recent Gallup poll conducted by NAMM, the trade association of the international music products industry, shows that 94 percent of Americans think that learning music boosts children’s overall intellect, while 91 percent believe that it increases on-the-job creativity later in life.

According to NAMM, learning music also teaches social skills, self-reliance, problem-solving, communication and confidence. Music students are less likely to use tobacco, drugs and alcohol, and more likely to enjoy school.

No wonder Michelle Obama is holding music education series at the White House, in which established artists teach aspiring musicians. The Obamas hosted the first series in June, which focused on jazz. The First Lady said that there is “no better example of democracy than a jazz ensemble; individual freedom, but with responsibility to the group.”

Of course, American students need to receive music education not just at the White House, but also in their own schools. SupportMusic.com, a public service led by NAMM and the National Association of Music Education (MENC), encourages parents to advocate for music in schools. To download materials that can help you promote the importance of music in your local schools, visit www.SupportMusic.com.

Helping a child develop an appreciation for music is the first step in creating a lifetime of creativity and enrichment. NAMM and “Making Music” magazine offer the following tips for raising a musical child:

– Expose your child to music every day. Listen to all types of music. Play music at home and in the car.

– Make instruments readily available to children. Leave out old guitars, harmonicas, recorders, tambourines and maracas for easy access.

– Take your time. Music should be fun and entertaining. Pushing too hard could lead to negative attitudes toward music.

To find a music store near you or to find out more about the proven benefits of learning to play an instrument, visit www.wannaplaymusic.com.