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Albrecht: How music and art grow the young mind

Did you know that activities such as art expand a growing mind’s creative ability and that listening to music has been shown to raise one’s IQ? These subjects have been the “talk of the town” in venerable venues such as the “TED Talks,” and Barrington High School graduate Brittany Albrecht — my daughter — recently spoke about the importance of the arts at BHS and A.C. Lines Elementary School.

Organic farming coming to Brunner Family Forest Preserve
Organic farming coming to Brunner Family Forest Preserve
As “Miss Southern Sweetheart” her Miss America social platform, “Art and Music Education: The ‘Key’ to Academic Success” was given to the third grade class of Mrs. Sarah Giunchedi at Lines in November, the Lines holiday sing-a-long assembly in December, and BHS choir classes in January.

Mrs. Giunchedi said that her students learned “That the arts change your brain in order to make you smarter. They are just as important as academics are for building intelligence.”

She added that music education has helped her “to appreciate music. I enjoy a wide range of music and appreciate the hard work that goes into making music.”

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A.C. Lines Principal Jill Schweiger said that the students “learned that there are more benefits to music beyond enjoyment. They learned about the brain benefits that music has on people and how that positively impacts their learning.” Music education has had a significant impact on her own learning. “In addition to my school’s general music program, I also participated in my school’s band. Both of these experiences helped me make connections between math concepts and note reading. I also continue to play soft music while I’m working, as I feel it helps me stay focused in my work. Music is also a vehicle for relaxation and reducing stress for me, which keeps my mind open for learning.”

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She added, “In addition to impacting my academic experiences, I also found music as a vehicle to help me connect with other and the outside world. Through my experiences with band and show choir, I became part of two peer groups and made lasting friendships. I was also introduced to different genres of music and musical shows, and I have attended a variety of performances throughout Chicago and on Broadway in New York City. Music has expanded my understanding of different time periods and cultures, broadening my view of the world.”

New BHS Choral Music Teacher Chip Batko said: “The students felt they had more insight as to why music is so important as part of their education. They often hear “music is good for the brain.” However, this was the first time where they fully understood why taking music and art classes is so helpful.”

He added, “Students were more understanding as to what cognitively happens in the brain when it is engaged in activities such as music and how that cognitive function carries over into their core classes such as math and science.”

Since Mr. Batko chose music education for a career, he places tremendous value on it and knows its benefits first hand: “Before taking music, I always struggled with being able to concentrate on a test or a quiz. Over the course of taking music classes (and more when I got into high school), I was able to take tests more effectively because my concentration on the subject matter had improved. Music is something that forces you to focus from a visual, aural and kinesthetic perspective.”

If you or your child is involved with music and the arts, that should be “music to your ears!”

Article by Kimberly Albrecht, www.chicagitribune.com, www.msidallas.com