South-Western Subject Matter: Music plays vital role in all our lives

Brandon Moss
South-Western City School District

It is playing when we get to the stands before the football game. It introduces our favorite show. It makes cleaning the house a little more enjoyable. I am talking about music, of course, and our love for it develops from a very young age. In a recent survey of my high school choir students, they shared these action words for music in their lives: Music calms, motivates, expresses, empowers, sustains, connects and focuses. Indeed, it seems that music plays a vital role in all our lives.

Brandon Moss

For those who make music, it provides an even more crucial outlet. In the same survey, I asked students what they missed about being in an ensemble – be it choir, band or orchestra – from before our present situation amid COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions. Response after response spoke of the thrill that live musical performance brings: that high which can come only from sharing the hard work and efforts you and your fellow musicians have toiled away on and receiving the appreciation and praises of an audience.

In this respect, it has been a tough year for our student musicians. In March 2020, we went on COVID-19 “lockdown” the day before my high school choir was to have performed at the Large Group Adjudicated Event sponsored by the Ohio Music Education Association, commonly known to the students as “Contest.” This event always has been a source of pride for our students, as they prepare high-level musical literature for a panel of judges and even read down a brand-new piece of music by sight for a rating. 

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Yet while the music itself often takes center stage, it is what an audience member does not necessarily see that keeps our ensembles filled: Music is social. It is teamwork; it is a shared goal. As one student shared, it is knowing that your work is one piece of the puzzle, without which the picture would be incomplete. Making music together builds memories and creates traditions.

Music also teaches a lot more than dotted quarter notes and scales. Some of the “life skills” shared by my students include listening to others, confidence, leadership, patience, perseverance and flexibility. Numerous studies show that students who take music classes excel more in other disciplines.

School music this year has looked different all over the country. Some ensembles in small schools have been able to carry on in full groups, five days a week, giving limited, masked and socially distanced performances. Others have been unable to meet at all in-person, instead creating virtual concerts that are impressive but which cannot replace that connection piece our students crave. I suspect as various areas of our lives begin to return to some semblance of “normal” that we all will have a fresh appreciation for the power of live music.

As we celebrate “Music in Our Schools Month” this March, let us reflect on the ways in which music is important in each of our lives and give thanks for those students who choose music as an outlet for their own expression and connectedness. Be sure to catch the next available concert. As a society we all eagerly anticipate that first live audience.

Brandon Moss is the Central Crossing High School music educator.