Tuesday, October 18, 2022

YOUTH VOICE: The Meaning of Music Participation In and Out of School

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By Sam Piha

We will do well to listen to what teens tell us about music as a common need and a constant presence in their lives. Music is their social glue—a bridge for building acceptance and tolerance for people of different ages and cultural circumstances.Patricia Shehan Campbell, Ph.D.

Anytime we want to better understand what things mean to youth, we should ask them. Below are some summaries and statements on the importance of music in young people’s lives originally published on the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation website.

Music is my life. It's a safe haven. - Student at Skaneateles High School.

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The study conducted by Patricia Shehan Campbell Ph.D (University of Washington), titled “Adolescents’ Expressed Meanings of Music in and out of School,” was based on responses by 1,155 teens who submitted student essays to Teen People magazine as part of an online contest. Throughout their essays, students expressed their thoughts regarding learning and playing music and revealed that they value music making as a central aspect of their identities.

The findings include:

  • Playing music provides a sense of belonging for teens
  • Making music provides the freedom for teens to just be themselves; to be different; to be something they thought they could never be; to be comfortable and relaxed in school and elsewhere in their lives
  • Music helps adolescents release or control emotions and helps coping with difficult situations such as peer pressure, substance abuse, pressures of study and family, the dynamics of friendships and social life, and the pain of loss or abuse
  • Teens believe developing musical skills and performance is important since it paves the way to musical opportunities as skills develop
  • Teens long for more variety and options for making music in school, including the expansion to instruments and technology used in popular music
  • Adolescents are genuinely committed to their instruments and their school ensembles because they love to be involved in these musical and social groups
  • Teens believe that music is an integral part of American life, and that music reflects American culture and society
  • Teens feel that playing music teaches self-discipline such as “there are payoffs if you practice and stick with something”
  • Adolescents are of the opinion that playing music diminishes boundaries between people of different ethnic backgrounds, age groups and social interests
  • Teens associate playing music with music literacy, listening skills, motor ability, eye-hand coordination and heightened intellectual capabilities.”

A Good Resource for Research

The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation is a not-for-profit association dedicated to advancing active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs.

On November 7, 2022, from 10am- 12pm PST, Temescal Associates and The How Kids Learn Foundation will be sponsoring a webinar on this topic entitled, The Sound of Learning: The Importance of Music in Afterschool. Speakers will include researcher Patricia Shehan Campbell (UW), Les Peters (LBYMCA), Jon Bernson (BACR/SNBC), Kevin Peraza (Youth Institute Alumni) and Ren Daraio (Temescal Associates). To learn more and register for this informative webinar, click here.

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