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The Transforming Power of Music
By: Music Teacher Kim Doyle
The sounds of the Rossman School Holiday Program are still lingering in my ears. Last Thursday, over 200 students took to the stage at Missouri Baptist University’s Pillsbury Chapel and Dale Williams Fine Arts Center for the first time.
Weeks before, anticipation mounted as the littlest students wondered about the “red cape program” and older students worked hard in music class practicing pitch, articulation, rhythm patterns and how to look joyful. These preparations are not new, as Rossman School has presented a holiday program since 1917. However, standing on risers in a new venue was very different after decades of Holiday Programs held in Rossman’s Marshall Gymnasium.
In preparation, risers were brought into the music classroom so that students could learn how to stand and sit for the concert. As a music teacher, I begin with the end in mind. Here’s where the transformation began to happen. Children, who normally struggle to sit still for even a short car ride, learned about personal space and keeping hands to themselves. They learned how to stand on two feet, knees bent, for an entire song or series of songs. The first time standing seemed like forever, but as focus was placed on making music, the transformation continued.
Music has the transforming power to take an ordinary day and make it extraordinary. Music is an emotional, creative, multi-sensory, whole-body experience. Just think of the song, “Hot Cup of Cocoa.” The words create imagery that everyone, young and old, can picture: a yummy, chocolaty cup of steamy hot love topped with marshmallows.
Students learned the words to over twenty songs, stretching their memories and recalling motions. Memory recall is vital in the classroom and on the stage. Fifth and sixth grade students were challenged to memorize the notes and fingerings needed to play their recorder pieces. And while there were a few squeaky notes, through persistence and practice they succeeded overall!
These are the obvious transformations that took place. But music transforms much deeper.
Fear of the unknown has been converted, a change has silently happened within each singer, and new memories have been created. Confidence has grown as the quiet and shy student has been coached and encouraged to sing out, to stand tall. Pride has emerged as with any successful accomplishment, and now students are ready to tackle the next endeavor. That next endeavor might be on the stage, or perhaps on the playing field or even taking a standardized test. But the transformation happens over and over.
As a teacher, I’m in the business of planting seeds and nurturing these children to reach deep within themselves and become more and give more of themselves each day. I just like to do it through a song.