Guest column by Majhon Phillips: Music can help children develop creative thinking
Learning the ‘language’ of music is all about connecting with others
Published in Morgan Hill October 12-25, 2016
By Majhon Phillips
Music is a powerful communication tool for us all. Its emotional qualities can make us laugh and cry. It can also encourage us to think and question. Music is a language that has enhanced civilizations for thousands of years and enabled us to connect with each other.
At Music As Language, we hold a philosophy that music isn’t just about learning an instrument and reading notes. We approach music in a more natural way. It is about connecting with other people and sharing something interesting to say through a language of melody and rhythm. We realize that music comes from the musician, not the instrument — so we help students learn in a holistic way where they understand not only how to read and write music but also improvise as they “speak” the music.
At schools in Morgan Hill and Gilroy, the community faces the impact of budget cuts on music programs. I see the impact of these decisions on the students who come to Music As Language. About three-quarters of our students don’t learn music in their classrooms. It’s either not available or the training is very limited, which is a sad truth.
Learning music as a language not only stimulates young people to better understand and appreciate the arts, it also helps them do better at learning science and math. Music is the only study that incorporates both the creative side and the logical side of the brain at the same time. It creates synchronizations between the two sides and that can be helpful in math and science. More importantly, it really helps in communication skills and creative thinking.
I began my interest in music as a language at an early age. When I was about 2, my parents brought in a woman from a company called Parents As Teachers to see what areas I might do well in studying. She told my folks that I was very musically inclined and encouraged them to expose me to instruments. I found a passion for making music at that point in my life. I was taking piano lessons by 3 and I loved dancing my fingers across the ivory keys and discovering the language that is in music. That passion is just one reason I dedicated myself to helping children discover the musical talents inside them.
Music is also about sharing with the community and helping make the world a better place. That’s one reason why we hosted the second annual Rock for a Reason benefit concert in September. We raised money for the Edward Boss Prado Foundation and the funds went to build an inventory closet for Cecelia’s Closet, a program of the foundation. We raised $2,500 and Modern Woodman, a nonprofit financial services company, provided an additional $2,500.
More than the money, the fundraiser helped Music As Language students raise more awareness of organizations in the community that have an impact on families — and at the same time have fun entertaining friends and family.
There are so many lessons young people can learn from music. Among them is how to cooperate with others and how not to get stressed about mistakes. I encourage all families to provide stimulation through the fun of music. Learning music is learning a language that will pay dividends for decades to come.
Majhon Phillips is the founder, vocal and piano coach at Music As Language. She wrote this for Morgan Hill Life.