Nicole Bolla ‘20, Opinion Editor
When people see someone that has mastered an instrument, their first thought is, “That person must be very intelligent.” That thought is not necessarily too far off from the truth, considering that playing an instrument, in the words of Dr. John Dani, “Engages every major part of the central nervous system,” but if playing an instrument is good for your brain’s health, why is Piano Lab the only class dedicated to teaching the specifics of a particular instrument here at SLHS?
In the world of science and psychology, many studies have found that playing an instrument can increase IQ in children and help brain growth. For instance, a study published by the University of British Columbia in Canada showed that “students who took music lessons in high school performed better in subjects such as science, English, and math.” The study pulled from a group of 100,000 high schoolers who graduated between 2012 and 2015 and found that when compared to the test scores of students that did not play an instrument, the students that did scored higher in a range of subjects. With a number of studies yielding similar results to this study, it is a shock that South Lyon does not have more personalized music education classes for its students.
Some may ask, “Why not just take band class? You can learn an instrument there!” With students playing an instrument regularly in band class, constantly having to go to new performances, and learning required songs as a group, with little creative freedom, it can seem intimidating to a young aspiring musician who wants to learn in a more casual atmosphere. In addition, specific classes for a singular instrument provide a chance to learn an instrument to students who may not have the time after school or the financial stability to own one. Even though playing in the band is free, students still have to pay for general instrument upkeep and repairs. Having specific instrument classes will give students a chance to learn new, brain-developing skills casually in a relaxed environment. “Piano lab asks for a very reasonable time commitment, which might make it a more attractive choice for some students than the traditional choir and band courses [SLHS] offers,” Piano Lab teacher Mr. Andrew Hathakhanavala said. Learning an instrument is also a great way to create a community based around a common interest. “The thing I love most about teaching Piano Lab is getting to know so many students who I may never have met otherwise. Learning about their wildly different musical interests and backgrounds helps me keep the class relevant and interesting,” he said.
Despite the constant endorsement from students and faculty and hundreds of studies finding that playing an instrument like the piano is very beneficial to a developing brain, it is confusing as to why South Lyon has yet to implement such influential classes into its curriculum. Perhaps as the call to action grows, the school will realize that having personalized instrument classes will be more beneficial to students’ education and brain development compared to that of additional standardized testing.
Photo by Kendyl Laesch