In our early years of elementary school my parents gave us the ‘opportunity’ to learn the piano. My brothers and I would walk a couple blocks down the street to take lessons with Mrs Drevalis. If you practiced everyday at home and had a good lesson you received a gold star and could choose a candy bar to take home. I remember being more excited about the candy than the piano.
When I was in fourth grade the school provided the opportunity to play an instrument. We could choose anything from the string family, so I chose the cello. I enjoyed the sound and low tones but soon grew tired of carrying it back and forth to school. In fifth grade I could choose a band instrument of any kind, so I chose the flute. I could carry it, it was fun and shiny, and I could practice it easily. I played well into my junior high years.
I am sorry to say that I did not keep up my skills on any of these instruments. The best musical device I can work today is the iTunes downloaded to my iPad. I must admit though that I have a great appreciation for music after all those lessons, all that practice, all the concerts and different musical styles I experienced. My parents took us to concerts, musicals, the opera and the ballet. We were very fortunate to grow up near Chicago which has an amazing love for the arts. Museums, art, a planetarium, and the Field Museum were some of my favorite field trips. It wasn’t just a day out of school it was an amazing adventure into an entirely different part of the world. My world would never be the same.
Many years ago I took a friends twelve year old daughter to see her first broadway musical, Oklahoma! When we entered the theatre and I showed her the orchestra pit she said, “Oh my, there’s going to be a band?” Then I explained how the show worked, and we found our seats. She was mesmerized! I’m not sure she took any breath during the first act. The next day her Dad called me and asked, “What have you done to my kid? She hasn’t stopped dancing or singing since she got home.” I knew from that point on her world would never be the same.
In too many schools today the arts, music, and theatre have been removed. These ‘extras’ have been deemed non-essential. (A few choice words come to mind here, ones I am too family friendly to type, so I will simply say STUPID!) Someone, somewhere made that decisions purely for financial reasons, and now our children are robbed of these gifts. By leaving these areas out of education we are stunting the growth of our children’s minds. We are narrowing the scope of how they think, dream, and imagine. Idea people need to be encouraged and experience new, different, creative things to spark the ideas percolating in their own heads.
In a time like ours of technology, lightening speed Google searches, and instantaneous information we need big thinkers. If we want to cure our world problems, we need generations that think beyond their current limits. If we want to grow innovators, idea people, or even out of the box thinkers then we had better get back to opening the lid on the box or our world may never be the same.