At James River, we know that music education is an integral part of our school’s curriculum. Music education isn’t just a nice add-on. It is essential. And playing in a group setting is what our program is all about.
Of course, a student has to have the discipline (and instruction) to learn to play their instrument, but that is only the beginning. Playing in the band or orchestra, or singing in the choir, require a large degree of teamwork. It is the blended sound of the group that is the final product in a performance. Band, orchestra, chorus, and even dramatic plays all require a work ethic, collaboration, attention to detail, and putting the group above yourself similar to that required of an athletic team.
I would be remiss in writing about music education if I did not mention the two people who make our music education program the outstanding success that it is. Paddy Braunstein (choir) and Leigh Berkley (band and orchestra) are two of the most talented and inspiring educators I know. They instill competence and confidence in their students in fields where these young people have had little or no experience. They are prime examples of the excellence in teaching we are privileged to have here at James River.
According to The Journal of Educational Psychology, “High school students who take music courses score significantly better on math, science, and English exams than their non-musical peers.”
And a former President and a world-renowned cellist had these things to say about music education.
“Music education opens doors that help children pass from school into the world around them – a world of work, culture, intellectual activity, and human involvement." –Gerald Ford
“Music enhances the education of our children by helping them to make connections and broadening the depth with which they think and feel. If we are to hope for a society of culturally literate people, music must be a vital part of our children’s education.” –Yo-Yo Ma
This is why James River invests the time, money, and resources into music education that we do. It is profoundly important for the whole student.