Does Music Really Make A Difference?
We wanted to have a program that was fun for the kids, but that was beneficial for them also. I thought back to my childhood and the way that music influenced me in so many ways. I always struggled with school as a child. I had, and at times still do, a very short attention span. I have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) but wasn’t diagnosed with it. They really didn’t completely understand ADHD at all when I was a child. As a result, I was in and out of summer schools. I had to be tutored and taught all year long. My attention span was so very short.
One of the summer schools that I attended had a school psychologist and he evaluated all of the children that went to that particular school. This Psychologist continually evaluated all of us and his final evaluation on me was that “I would be lucky to finish Jr. High and that High School and College wouldn’t even be in my vocabulary”. My parents immediately took me out of this summer school and started teaching me on their own. My mother taught me to love reading by appealing to the thing I loved at the time. She asked me what a fair reward would be for reading a book, and I promptly said: “you could buy a model car for me for every book that I read”. I didn’t think she would do it. After all, who would buy a model car every time I read a book? I’ll tell you who…my mother! Her wisdom was giving me the freedom to learn, within reason, at my own pace and on my own terms. I would read a book in one week and build a model the very next. This went on all summer long. At the end of the summer, I had a large collection of models in my room. I also had enjoyed many adventures from cover to cover.
When I was 11 years old instead of summer school, I was able to pick what I wanted to do for the summer. I was given a list of educational, but fun and interesting classes that were taught that summer locally. I picked small engine repair. We not only learned how to repair small engines, but we completely took our engines apart, cleaned them, and put them back together again. My engine ran perfectly after I was done. I entered the 6th grade one month later. My teacher had a farm and had a small engine for his hay elevator that didn’t work. He asked me if I would be willing to repair this engine, on school time, in the school shop. I took the challenge and it also ran when I was done. I was given A’s and B’s for classes I never attended because I was in the school shop repairing an engine. I enjoyed working with my hands, but now I was a half a year behind in school.
My cousins lived a block away and most of the seven children were starting to learn to play an instrument. Not wanting to be left out, I decided that I would like to start playing the trumpet. As I started to learn to read music and perform on my trumpet, things just started to fall into place concerning school. Things began to click! By the end of the summer when I entered Jr. High I had a head start on the others in the trumpet section in band class. I was always able to hold that 1st chair position in band class. Music changed my life completely. When I graduated from High School I had not only participated in my school activities, but I excelled. I was in leadership positions in several scholastic clubs, and also was in debate, choir, madrigals, band, jazz and marching band, ski club, football, tennis and I lettered. I was able to graduate in the top ten percent in my class and I was awarded two scholarships. I still have that letter of evaluation from that Psychologist that I will always cherish. But more important than that are my two college degrees that I was able to earn. How was I able to overcome my ADHD and focus on my school work? Music! It helped me to become more articulate, more aware, more decisive, more acute, and more diligent. Music helped me to become MORE of who I really was.