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SanTan Family Fun Calendar

PAGES 4-5 Study habits

PAGE 8 Just 4 Kids Sponsored by

City of Chandler Recreation Division

Resource list

McKnight Guitar Co. 1940 W. Chandler Blvd., Suite 12

Chandler, 480-782-9600

Gymboree Play & Music 2160 W. Chandler Blvd., Suite 18

Chandler, 480-963-1756

Fletcher Music Centers 10325 E. Riggs Rd. Chandler, 480-883-3677

East Valley Music Center 2880 E. Germann Rd., Suite 7 Chandler, 480-917-6911

City of Chandler

Mini Music class for ages 1 to 3 with a parent

10 to 10:45 a.m. Oct. 18 through Nov. 15, click Break Time

Balancing academics with sports, dance, dinner and homework may leave little time for today’s families to nurture a deep appreciation for music. But, say local experts, fostering musical talent in children actually provides many, often hidden, benefits. In the Chandler Unified School District, general music classes start in kindergarten. In third grade they can start choir club. Then fifth and sixth grades present opportunities to learn a band instrument or string instrument, or to remain in general music courses, according to fifth-year Ryan Elementary general music teacher and Choir Director Melissa Kuproski. “Some students might start taking lessons on an instrument at an early age, but most students begin band instruments in the fifth-grade,” adds first-year Ryan Elementary band teacher Deanna Kirchoff.

Once the decision is made to have a child pursue learning a musical instrument, there’s the dilemma of which one. And, every instrument has its unique challenges during the learning phase, Kirchoff explains.

“For example, woodwinds have a lot of keys, flutes can be difficult to produce sound on at first, brass can easily hit notes on the wrong partials, and percussionists have to learn several instruments at once.” Nevertheless, young musicians must hang in through tough times, she asserts.

October 2010

String instruments such as cello, viola, bass or violin, and band instruments such as clarinets, flutes and trumpets are much harder to play than “classroom instruments” such as tambourines, xylophones, rhythm sticks or maracas, Kuprowski details.

The benefits are many when a child persists in learning a musical instrument, both teachers say. One benefit is a stronger aptitude for math, notes Kirchoff.

“There is a lot of math involved in learning about rhythms and time signatures.” Learning musical symbols on the page is also similar to learning a new language, she adds.

Additionally, some SAT sections are easier for youth who are learning an instrument. “High school music students also score better on their SATs in both verbal and math than their peers who do not participate in music,” shares Kuprowski. Youth cultivate other benefits as well when they experience music, according to both teachers. One plus is learning about other traditions and cultures, which is accomplished through active learning when kids play such songs on an instrument or move or sing to the music, says Kuprowski.

Band music practice also helps students acquire an understanding of self-discipline, teamwork and cooperation, adds Kirchoff. But what about the lure of TV and video games versus music practice?

“I see kids as still being passionate about music, even though there is way more access to video games, TV, and so on,” observes Kuprowski.

To keep kids on the musical straight-and-narrow, having parents expose kids to music is vital, Kuprowski emphasizes. Her own family loved music, attending symphonies and musical concerts regularly and experiencing vocal, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and choral genres. “We spent many evenings listening to music and interpreting

Music, academics in tune by Sharon Hess

MAKING MUSIC: Elementary school is a good time for children to learn to play a musical instrument.

STSN photo by Gordon Murray

the meanings of each song. My parents also put on music while we got ready for school in the morning.”

Kuprowski and her siblings took private music lessons in their early years, and when a little bit older, she started participating in community musical theatre and taking voice lessons.

“If parents can do what my parents did, I guarantee children will appreciate many different kids of music. Music shaped my life, because of my parents.” Even if parents become convinced of the value of encouraging musical talent in their kids, some school districts and households face budgetary challenges that might limit opportunity.

“Many districts have drastically cut their music programs, and some districts no longer offer general music, so students who excel at and love music will not have that outlet,” Kuprowski explains, adding that other kids might never discover their latent musical talents because of parents’ inability to fund private lessons. “This is very sad.”

However, they need not give up, Kirchoff says. She recommends would-be musicians to ask family members, friends and neighbors if they own any instruments they no longer use that the student could borrow. Additionally, school districts can often rent instruments.

“We will do everything we can to get an instrument into the hands of an eager young musician.” she concludes.

Sharon Hess is a freelance writer who can be contacted at

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