This sums up why my children are learning to play an instrument…

I make it no secret that I LOVE that my children play music. I am not shy about letting my children know that I love hearing them play their instruments, especially when they pick up their stringed instruments. I warms my heart to know that by providing them with something that provides me such joy, I am providing them with something that is a big building block for so many things in their lives.

In an article posted on, entitled “The Top 17 Ways Learning a Musical Instrument Gives You The Edge” it states:

Music is a powerful weapon and in the right hands it can be a great force for good. It has the power to bring people to their feet, bring them together, separate them, enrage them, or fill them with fervor for a just cause. It can be calming, bring one to tears, and even make one fall in love. It is one of the most powerful forces on the planet….There is no denying that the study of music increases the general ability to learn in children and there are many theories as to why this is so. Quite aside from these ideas that have been kicking around for some time, there are many other benefits of playing a musical instrument. Some may surprise you!

[Chris Ellis – “The Top 17 Ways Learning a Musical Instrument Gives You The Edge”]
I agree that music is a very power force and it can do things that often words cannot do. It has the ability to touch our soul and the souls of others in ways that so many other things around us do not. It plays with our emotional inner self. It also stimulates us in ways that our intellectual self cannot. 
I agree with most of the items on the list presented in this article because I have seen it in my own children as they have learned to play the piano, cello, viola, and organ. It is not about the instrument so much as it is about the process and the music. 
I have seen Andrew “direct expression [of his] soul to [another] soul. I saw it the day his little brother was baptized. This also happened to be the day that he was sealed to Ben and I in the Houston, Texas Temple for time and all eternity. It was an emotional day to begin with. He played a special musical number on his cello at his brother’s baptism. My Grandmother Hellewell, his Great-Grandmother, had never heard him play his cello before in person. At least not that I recall in a setting like this. It was a spiritual setting and it was a spiritual song. It was not a fancy hymn. It was not something to sing grand praises to. It was a simple primary song out of the Children’s Hymn Book. One we have heard many times before. Grandma was in tears. She had not heard it before. It was a special day for her. It was Grandpa’s birthday. It was moving and touched her spirit. Music has that special way of moving us in ways we do not always know are possible with pieces that appear to be so simple.
I have seen my children come to appreciate different types of music as they have learned to play the various pieces on the various instruments. It has exposed them to different types of music. They have learned to like different things. They have been exposed to different things. They have learned about the history and what drove the various composers to write various pieces of music. They have learned new emotional expressions from their music as they have learned to play the music. They have simply learned through exposure. 
I have seen my children “sharpen their focus” as they spend time practicing and also during their lessons as they are learning new skills. As I have watched the various UIL contests and what goes on during the process of the orchestra directors teaching them a new pieces of music for sight reading contests I am in awe of just how much focus it requires for them to learn and work through the nuances of learning something new even when it is not easy.
I have watched my two older children in particular learn to “[read] nonverbal communication” as they have progressed through their orchestra careers to date. Andrew in particular as he has learned to adjust to the directing styles of two or three directors on stage in the same concert. I have seen them pick up on the various cues and learn to follow them in order to work together as a whole orchestra. 
I have watched my children learn the responsibility that comes with learning to play a new instrument. Whether it be spending time practicing or caring for the instrument, they have taken that responsibility with grace most of the time. I do have to remind them to practice but they usually do it without too much complaint once they get to a certain level and that responsibility comes when they learn their place in the orchestra as a whole and how people are depending on them. 
I have watched my children’s listening skills become more fine tuned as they have progressed through their musical training. Andrew in particular can pick out an out of tune violin from across the auditorium or from a recording of their recent concert. Kyle is learning to do the same but a little slower than his brother. Andrew is my child that could play pieces of music by ear. Kyle has been the better sight reader. Lance is just beginning to learn the piano so has not picked up these skills yet, but he too will learn and develop the same listening skills over time.
I have seen my children’s coordination increase, but I cannot say that it has all be because of music. I can blame some of that on their martial arts. However, can we say that the two have worked together in harmony with each other? At any rate, the boys are able to keep their fingers on both hands coordinated enough to do exactly what their mind tells them to do. At least the older two are. Lance is still learning to finger on the piano. The older two are also coordinated enough to transition that ability to another instrument – cello or viola. In Andrew’s case, he can even add his feet on the organ. It is fascinating to me as I am not very well coordinated with my hands and feet – together. 
I have found Andrew many times “[relieving] stress” through playing a musical instrument. I have not quite seen the same through Kyle but that does not mean that listening does not do the same. For a while I knew when Andrew was relieving stress because he would sit down at his cello and “practice” an unusual amount of time and not his “typical” school music. Then he switched to the piano and we would often find him in at the piano working on “Rhapsody in Blue” over and over and over again. It was joyous sounds even if in the beginning it sounded like it fell off the back of the truck. It was that perseverance at its finest, but you could see a much more relaxed Andrew afterward. He would then wander off and do his homework. The thing I found over the years is that the children are usually safe if they are sitting on that piano bench. I cannot yell at them if they are in there actively playing. That is a safe haven for them. It does not matter what they have done or not done during those few moments in time, I know they need those few moments and something comes over me and I have a new calm about me to recollect myself. Usually when they are done, I have enough calm to react to them in a more peaceful way. Their music is usually enough to relieve the stress of the moment in myself as well as for them. I really like that.
I have seen how it can “foster creativity” in the children. As the boys have grown in their musical experience, I have seen their creativity grow as well. I have been blessed with creative children to begin with, but as their creative mind has been fed with “the arts” I have seen it grow. I watched Andrew quietly the other day work on what appeared to be a compilation or arrangement. I heard him play that after church on Sunday and I knew with certainty what he had been working on. His father asked about it. I have seen some of Kyle’s creativity increase more in his artistic drawing side the last little while, but there is nothing that says it has to be all musical. Lance I will catch humming the songs and making up words to go with the tunes he already knows. This is where it all starts.
I have seen the boys use their musical talents to help them remember things. They say that if you put things to music you will remember it. I know that Andrew has done that. Catchy jingles does that to you. 
I have seen my boys learn to manage their time more efficiently has they have grown in their musical careers. Not because of anything that I have made them do but because of their own experience and desire to become better. Andrew especially with the rigor of the IB program at school has very little time to wiggle let alone waste and he has managed to handle practicing the piano, cello, homework, teaching piano lessons, and school where he is in multiple clubs, and two orchestras and the cello choir. He has a very full plate. He even managed to make straight A’s this last grading period. Kyle is learning to get squeeze more in the time he has in the morning as he has less time in the afternoon. He has started to figure out how to work in time to ride his bike in the afternoon because he enjoys doing it. He also enjoys making time to go to the karate dojo as this is one way that he manages stress.
I have especially watched Kyle in his “[learning] to persevere until [he gets] it right” because it does not always come naturally to him. He has to work to get it sometimes. He is a great sight reader but his ability to translate that into graceful and beautiful sounds the first several times the bow and strings meet is not so great. For him it takes lots of practice and work. He is learning that. I am hopeful that he will learn the true meaning of meaningful practice.
I have seen the boys “develop composure in front of people” through their musical performances. Lance has not quite had this opportunity yet as he has only been playing the piano since September and he has not had his first recital yet, but I have watched Andrew and Kyle struggle through those first panicked moments “on stage” to their ability to perform beautiful masterpieces with their orchestras. They truly can perform under pressure. The world can look at them and mom’s camera flash can go off and they can stay composed and poised. 
The children have enjoyed the learning process of music. They may not enjoy “practicing” so much, but I am not sure any of us enjoy practicing anything. They do enjoy the learning. I have been on the receiving end of many conversations with the boys (all three) of something new that they have learned or they wanted to show me because they thought it was fascinating. I am always willing to listen to what they share. I may not fulling understand it but I am willing to sit and listen and learn too.
I have seen the children grow their “creative network” and enjoy seeing the friends that they have made over the years. These are great people and the times when they just sit down and play impromptu pieces together for no reason at all brings a smile to my face. The boys know people at karate that are also in orchestra with them. They know people from church that are also in orchestra with them. Their “creative network” spans multiple facets of their lives.
Andrew has found that he has a “marketable skill” in teaching piano lessons. Last summer he worked three jobs. He worked at the book store at the local community college, teaching at the karate dojo, and teaching piano lessons. Not only does he have the ability to teach piano and learned that enjoyed doing that, but he has the ability to share that talent with those around him. He has the ability to share music with those around him where ever he may go. When he serves his LDS Mission he will not have the excuse of not having a pianist in the area he is serving because he can fill any void that might arise. He can share his musical talents with the people he may be serving. 
I hope that my boys will all call themselves musicians one day even if they will never be world renowned pianists, cellists, or violists. I hope that they will consider themselves well rounded in the musical world and continue to grow their musical talents. They may be interested in math and science but I hope that they will continue to nourish that creative side of their brain.

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