Involvement in music provides multitude of benefits


Steff King

The orchestra, under the direction of Mr. Geyssens, performs at the Winter Concert

Abby King, Rampage Reporter

Music can be heard around the world. From musicians on the streets to singers on Broadway, their love and enjoyment for music does not change. Students at Dubuque Senior High School do not have to leave the school to enjoy music. The music departments at Senior allow students to sing their hearts out and play their favorite instrument. While being in the music department allows students to express their love for music, it also has several benefits.

“Nearly 80% of students in music programs are straight A students,” says Than Chesher, the choir director at DSHS.

One of the most prominent benefits of being in the music program, is the benefits it has on the brain mentality. The study of music provides a direct training ground for two essential abilities, audiation and visualization. Audiation is the ability to hear something inside your head, while visualization is the ability to see something inside your head.

“Studies have shown that when two different groups of people were trained a certain skill the group that actually performed the physical skill didn’t score as well as the group that visualized themselves performing the skill perfectly every single time,” said Bill Rowley, the band director at DSHS.

Students that study music tend to have larger vocabularies and more advanced reading skills than their peers. Why does performing music do this? Rowley says that, “the active experience in music facilitates neuroplasticity.” Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Many Alzheimer patients recall things from their past when music that occurred from a certain period in time is played.

Although being involved in the music department has its mental benefits, it also has emotional benefits as well. Being in the music program is a way to relieve stress and make new friends along the way.

Morgan McClain (10) describes how joining orchestra gave her a group of friends that have stayed together as the years went on. McClain describes orchestra as a, “really great way to connect.” Other students in the music program described the friends they have made. Cassie Williams (10) said she joined choir because music and singing has always been part of her life. Being in choir allows her to connect more to her peers and her family.

Even the teachers in the music program keep in contact with their friends. “I still contact one of my friends from high school for things even though she teaches piano performance at a university on the east coast,” says Chesher. With friends together creating music, there is a supportive and fun atmosphere as well. Williams said, “choir provides such a fun and happy atmosphere, and it serves almost like a nice break from my day. I get to just laugh and sing and appreciate music.” Creating music and being in the music program is a great way to boost self-esteem.

Music allows students to try new things and develop confidence as they master their practice. The major emotional benefit of being in the music program is the ability to release emotions into the music. “With all of those levels of emotion, it’s sometimes best to experience them and get through them (especially the sad/angry ones) through music,” Chesher describes.

Being in the music program allows for many different opportunities. Each spring, the band, choir, and orchestra compete in the large group competition. In 2018, the concert band, string orchestra, and full orchestra received Division 1 ratings, and the choir received a Division 3 rating. Along with contests, every two years the music program travels to a different state to perform. “I’ve had the opportunity to go on many different trips where we’ve been able to compete individually and as a team,” says Kara Merfeld (12th grade).

There are many different music programs at Dubuque Senior High School. During the fall season, band participates in marching band where they perform at football games as well as competing in marching band competitions. When marching band season is through, the band then transitions into concert band.

Around the time of concert band, jazz band also starts with meeting in the mornings. Orchestra has two different groups, string orchestra and full orchestra. String orchestra is all string instruments, while full orchestra is combined with select band students and orchestra students. Along with band and orchestra, choir has four different choirs, chorale, concert, ambassadors, and jazz.

With all of these music programs, there is no limit to the music that can be produced at Dubuque Senior High School.