Words by Jonathan Hooper

Photography by White Orchid Photography

Be Afraid, But Do it Anyway.

Whether you are swinging a bat at your first T-Ball game, walking up the steps on your first day of school, auditioning for All-Region band, applying for a new job, or performing on The Voice, you will most certainly be afraid to put yourself out there into a situation where you will either fail or succeed.

Parents want their child to succeed as well, and are always looking at ways to improve the chance to win, from good ideas that include extra tutoring and exposure to culture, to bad ideas like the recent college admission scandals.

Studies can often prove whatever the author of those studies want to prove. Nonetheless, there is overwhelming evidence found in hundreds of studies that indicate the role that music can play in the development of children. For example:

  • Learning music taps into multiple skill sets, such as integrating ears, eyes, muscles, and language.
  • There are clear indications that musical training develops the part of the brain that processes language.
  • Neuroscience research claims music increases neural activity, using more parts of the brain simultaneously.
  • Current research has found that understanding music assists with the combining elements used in solving math problems.
  • Music education has benefits in self-discipline, learning skills, managing performance, and being apart of a larger group.
  • And of course, studying music also makes one better at music!

As seen above, music study for children is often bolstered by these studies that tout the extrinsic values gained from music study. But what about studying music for the sake of studying music? Does it have any intrinsic value? Aside from the life skills attained, is there a reason to simply be abetter musician just to become a better musician?Does becoming more musical make you a better person?

Local Granbury music teacher Ashley Green ofGreen Pearl Studio has seen all of these research findings to be true. After years of working as a loan processor, she left banking to pursue her dreams.Now playing piano and leading worship at church, singing lead soprano in other churches, performing in every venue she can find, teaching voice at two schools, and working with more than 30 private students each week, with all ages and different kinds of students, and in all sorts of different situations and settings, Green cuts through the quagmire of these studies to simply say,

“I encourage the students, we set goals, they learn to perform music, and it makes them better people. I see it every day.”

With numerous opportunities locally to learn about music and to perform music, where does a parent begin? The temptation to make our children the very best we never were runs rampant in America. Overstepping good judgement to help our children be happy and fulfilled can lead to burnout and lifelong disinterest. We see it in youth sports, academic testing, religion, and we see it in the arts, from music to theatre. Likewise, we also see wonderfully nurturing parents who find equally nurturing programs for their children.

Musical Theatre, Stage Parents, and Inspiration

Locally, The Granbury Theatre Academy is a part of the historic Granbury Theatre Company. With age appropriate group classes ranging from first day beginner to fairly experience performer, the Academy offers classes in Theatre, Dance, and Music.Public performances of musical theatre productions geared toward children are an integral part of the program. Their stated purpose is to “inspire and develop local talent through its specialized arts repertoire and all-inclusive programming”. Recent productions have included Alice in Wonderland Jr.,Lion King Jr., Winnie the Pooh KIDS, Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr., and the Academy Showcase.

Upcoming productions will include Aladdin Jr.,Munchkin Land Summer Camp, and Junie B. JonesThe Musical Jr.

Green also teaches classes at the Granbury Theatre Academy, and often plays piano for both rehearsals and performances. Her Bachelor’s andMaster’s degrees are in Vocal Performance, so piano is not her top instrument.

“I tell my students it is important to keep growing all the time, so here I am, playing piano in public! But Ido enjoy piano, too. These days, a musician has to be flexible. Being busy is good too!”

During any given week during the summer months, nearly every local church in any town is presenting their annual Vacation Bible School, culminating in a full-blown production of an elaborate children’s musical. Methodists attending a Baptist VBS and vice versa? Not a problem! Odds are pretty good they may attend two or three VBS events in the summer.

During the school year, the Hood CountyLibrary offers a free “Music-In-Motion” class onMondays, providing opportunities for singalongs, integrated stories, and appropriate introduction of instruments. Attention: parents must attend with their child.

Farther abroad in the Metroplex, there are several one-week music and arts camps. These tend to be all day events with specialized instruction aimed at enhancing performance skills.

All over Texas, at nearly every college and university, Band and Choir camps are offered for middle school and high school students. These camps provide students similar opportunities found in their local school bands, but often with a higher level of instruction and performance expectations. Since the students often will be working with college instructors, it is also a good way to check out a college for the future.

Private music lessons for nearly every instrument and voice are readily available throughout the county. Many are offered through churches, and in private studios like Green PearlStudio, and The Dora Lee Langdon Cultural andEducation Center. These private lessons are an excellent way to improve skills over the summer.Many offer additional instruction in music theory, and all will provide a final performance recital of some kind.

Audition coaching is a growing field as well. An audition coach can help with selection of music for any type of audition, from church solos to university scholarship auditions. The coach will assist with producing an accompaniment track, making a cut in the recording as needed for timed-limited auditions, and of course, help prepare the audition itself. Having sat through hundreds of scholarship auditions, this writer can assure you that a well-prepared and appropriate audition can mean the difference of thousands of dollars in scholarships.Green adds her perspective on auditions:

“I tell the students that this is their journey, not someone else’s, so don’t compare yourself to them. Not getting the part doesn’t mean you are not good enough—you’re just not there yet.”

Too often we oversell music and how smart it will make our children. But there are benefits to being a musical person that we still do not completely understand. Maybe it makes your child happy and engaged. Perhaps their understanding of the world and how they can express themselves are enhanced. Most assuredly, it is not that Mozart will simply make them smarter. It could be that Mozart causes their horizons to be higher. What we do understand is that by doing it anyway, they will conquer their fears.

Smart will come later. And don’t forget to practice.