Music News for September 22

Greetings —

My congratulations and thanks to the Senior Choir and Nova Choir for the wonderful anthems that kicked off another great season of music at First Church! I would like to take this opportunity to warmly welcome our four wonderful soloists and section leaders back to the Senior Choir — Chuck Claus, Davron Monroe, Irina Kareva, and Melanie Bacaling — I’m looking forward to much beautiful music with all of you!

        The beginning of the church year means so much activity in the music program at First Church. Senior and Nova Choirs start their rehearsals for the anthems each week. The organist works to prepare service music, hymns, and solos. Soloists rehearse songs to present as offertories. The children’s choirs start an intense rehearsal schedule for the annual musical. We join as a community to sing hymns together each week. In the midst of all this musical activity I find it fascinating to contemplate the impact that music has on people. One may be inclined to wonder, “what is the point of all this music?” If we turn to some recent science about music and the brain, perhaps we find an answer.

       According to a 2014 issue of TIME magazine, science has shown that when children learn to make music, their brains develop a greater ability to distinguish between certain sounds that can aid in literacy, which can translate into improved academic results. A new study from Northwestern University shows that there is a distinct difference between the benefits of simply listening to music, and actively participating in making music. Children who played instruments regularly in class had more improved neural processing abilities than children who were placed in a music appreciation class where they merely listened to music. A similar study in 2010 showed that students who took music in middle school scored significantly higher on their 9th Grade algebra tests than the students who did not take music.

        The wonderful thing is that none of these studies mention the talent of the participants. The research suggests that no matter what natural ability one has or lacks, studying and learning music has significant benefits.

        Music has also been shown to have a positive influence on the brains of adults. In 2002, a study showed that music activities (both music listening and music making) can influence older adults’ perceptions about the quality of their lives. Participants in the study were more likely to see their lives as positive if they were involved in making or listening to music, demonstrating that participants often place considerable value on the nonmusical benefits of music activities.

        So whether you are singing, playing an instrument, or simply listening with attention, I encourage everyone to take every chance you get to make your experience a musical experience!

~Ian Garvie, Director of Music
617-484-1054, ext. 206 or

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