Friday, May 25, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 12

Santa Maria Sun / Music

The following article was posted on August 28th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 25 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 14, Issue 25

Education begins with music

A cry for sanity from the front lines of music education



I’m still in the dawn of my career as a musical educator. I teach several instruments—piano, guitar, and mandolin, among others—at Music Motive in Nipomo, and I talk to every student I have, from kindergartners to senior citizens, about music theory and the ideas surrounding what they’re learning.

As any educator will probably tell you, something explained several different ways is usually something best learned. I try to give my students the knowledge about what they’re already doing intuitively: making music. This is the remarkable thing about music: It’s an intuitive language.

Think of one of the first things you ever learned at the beginning of your education. The alphabet, right? That’s 26 unique letters; each must be learned, understood, processed, and used. But first, each letter has to be said and remembered. So we did it with a song. Set to “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” the ABC song demonstrates music’s power to aid in learning. Because a tone is assigned to each letter or group of letters, the language center of the brain is coursing with synaptic energy due to the combined tonality and phonetic information.

When blazing trails in our minds, the name of the game is connectivity; how powerful is the signal you’re sending to your brain? That’s why music, dance, and many sports are learned slowly at first—so a strong connection will be made from the outset. Music is also a special activity because it uses both hemispheres of the brain simultaneously, upping the voltage of any connections you’re trying to make. Music is unique in that it stimulates many parts of the brain at one time, fostering neural connectivity in vastly different regions.

Numerous studies detail how musicians are less inclined to have Alzheimer’s or dementia in old age, are more likely to speak multiple languages, and have overall better academic achievement. Music can literally give you more memory; all you have to do is make it! Open your mouth and sing, pluck a string, or strike a key.

It’s a shame that musical education has been a victim of budget cuts in the public school system because music might just be the missing component in education. While this shortfall brings me a stock of students in need of education, it leaves even more students without a valuable tool on their journey to becoming an educated adult.

While music in education needs to be rethought, so does music in society. Music, which so often was a thing people did together spontaneously, is now piped in electronically over sound systems or through ear buds. Music is always vibrating around us; it just needs to be listened to or joined in on. Music is not something to distract us on our drive or in a store; it is a living, breathing art form and language, one that more and more people feel isolated from.

And then there’s pop music. If this music is selling the most records, I’m not surprised that fast food restaurants are selling the most burgers. I feel obligated to remind my generational peers that there are more things to sing and dance about than just consumption, egoism, and the reproductive act. Also, the proliferation of electronic instruments has resulted in a music that young people can hardly identify with, in that they can’t make the sounds themselves without expensive hardware and software. Even vocals have become altered, with the use of Auto-Tune going so far as to remove the need for being able to hit a simple pitch.

This is having major ramifications in education. If a student base is saturated with a hypnotic intellectual junk food, the results won’t be pretty. Parents need to take a hand in their children’s musical diet because television is programming children to think that club music is music. It’s disturbing and horrifying on several levels when a child opens his or her mouth and sings with the overly sexualized inflection of a pop singer and the profanity-laden lyrics that go with. Children also need to understand that music is more than just a three-minute electronic beat-fest, but rahter has included such long-lasting forms as symphonies, sonatas, and even rock operas.

Everyone has the power to enjoy good music and improve brains along with it. We’re at an unprecedented time of access to quality recordings of just about anything, from Beethoven’s symphonies to The Beatles’ discography. The Internet aside, the Santa Maria Public Library has a stash of compact discs for every taste to check out and listen to.

And if you keep your eyes on this column, I’ll make sure to always provide you with a complete account of the community’s upcoming concerts and musical events. Beautiful music is being made every day, just asking us to take the time to listen!


Park yourself

Concerts in the Park is a free series presented by the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department, PLAY Inc., and Santa Maria Rotary clubs featuring Monte Mills and the Lucky Horseshoe Band performing on Sept. 2 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Los Flores Ranch Park on U.S. Highway 101 in Santa Maria. More info: 925-0951, Ext. 260.


Live at the Radisson

The Radisson Hotel presents live music on Fridays and Saturdays from 7 to 10 p.m. including Calo performing on Aug. 30 and 31 at 3455 Skyway Drive, Santa Maria. More info: 928-8000.


Back from the barrio

The Chumash Casino Resort presents Latin recording artist Paquita la del Barrio performing live on Aug. 29. Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan perform live on Sept. 6. Both shows are at 8 p.m. at the Chumash Casino Resort, 3400 E. Highway 246, Santa Ynez. More info: 585-3737 or


Words, wine, and music

Lucia’s Wine Co. offers an open mic featuring wine, poetry, and live music on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. at the tasting 
room, 126 E. Clark Ave., Orcutt. More info: 332-3080.


Wine down on hump day

The Addamo Tasting Room and Bistro present “Wine Down Wednesdays” featuring live music on Wednesdays from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Addamo Tasting Room and Bistro, located at 400 E. Clark Ave., Old Orcutt. Free. 
More info: 937-6400 or


Maverick music

The Maverick Saloon offers live entertainment, including live country by Brant Vogel and Hellbent on Aug. 30 at 8:45 p.m., followed by “Late Night with guest DJs” at 11:30 p.m. “Concert on the Deck” featuring Brant Vogel is Aug. 31 at 3 p.m. Brant Vogel and Hellbent perform on Aug. 31 at 8:45 p.m., followed by “Late Night with guest DJs” at 11:30 p.m. at the saloon, 3687 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez. More info: 686-4785 or mavericksyv@


Contact Arts Editor Joe Payne at

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