When thinking of music in schools, one would assume it’s only an extracurricular activity. Rome Free Academy (RFA) believes differently. To them, it’s a career path and the students who participate in the music programs are nurtured and prepared accordingly.
An article published July 21, 2015 in National Association for Music Education, establishes that students who participate in musical programs in school, benefit cognitively. The article makes a strong case for continuing music in schools, citing the benefits of music beyond not only keeping but expanding these musical programs. Advantages to students include:
• Helping develop language and reasoning as it uses the same side of brain used to process music.
• Improving memorization as musicians are constantly memorizing songs to perform.
• Improved hand/eye coordination.
• Heightened sense of achievement when they are able to accomplish simple to challenging pieces.
• More engaged students in both studies and outside activities.
• Improved social skills. Music piques a curiosity that filters into other subjects as well.
• Greater emotional development – Music helps to alleviate stress and promotes a higher self esteem in students.
• Improved pattern recognition through the repetitiveness of music.
• Higher SAT Scores – Students in music programs average 63 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on math scores.
• Improved auditory skills are developed through music. Most musicians can play by ear.
• Heightened imagination and intellectual curiosity is developed in the brain for those who participate in music.
• Heightened relaxation is accomplished. Where the term “music calms the beast” derives.
• Greater discipline skills. Musicians are required to participate in hours of self practice as well as group practice.
• Greater creative economical reasoning. Musicians become more creative in bringing music to their audiences with limited budgets.
• Greater spatial intelligence as the brain develops
• Greater responsible risk taking occurs as musicians begin to play in front of an audience. The ability to overcome fears and anxieties in life tends to lead them to better and more confident choices.
• Greater self confidence occurs as they achieve their goals and perform in front of friends, family, and peers.
NYS Music had an opportunity to talk with a local high school music educator at Rome Free Academy about past students, current students, and musical opportunities for the students in their future.
Kathy Stockbridge: Hi Michelle, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with our readers. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Michelle, she is a music teacher at the Rome Free Academy (RFA). Can you give our readers a little background on you and your experience in the music field?
Michelle Rushford: I grew up in the Rome City School District. I played clarinet in the band/marching band and sang in choir throughout my years in the Rome City School District. I graduated from RFA in 1986, and went on to Crane School of Music SUNY Potsdam to major in Music Education with a concentration in voice. I graduated from Crane in December of 1990, and began teaching at St. Peter’s Elementary School. After 1 ½ years at St. Peter’s, I began teaching in the Rome City School District at Stokes Elementary. I taught at Stokes for 13 years, Staley Middle School for 2 years, and finally, I have been at RFA for 8 years now.
During my time at Stokes, I had a private voice, guitar and piano studio with 17 students. I performed in many musical plays, and was the vocal director for several high school musicals, as well as clarinet player for the pit orchestra. I began singing, as the lead vocalist for the band The Dominoes in 1990 and have performed as lead vocalist in many other cover bands for approximately 22 years. The most recent band that I performed with was Classified. Classified is a well-known local 12-piece horn band who is inducted into the Rome Arts Hall of Fame, and has opened up for many famous bands, including KC and the Sunshine Band, The Temptations, and Earth Wind and Fire to name only a few.