by Erin Shelby
In the Netflix documentary The Road I’m On, country super star Garth Brooks recounts his childhood and his rise to fame. He recalls a particular instance when his father insisted that Garth join something, anything. You have to be part of a team, any team, was his father’s directive. As a result, young Garth played high school football. Do music and sports seem like polar opposites to you? If so, consider these three things that sports and music have in common.
Anyone who’s played sports knows that it takes more than one person to win the game. Teamwork is critical, and this also applies to music. Soloists with attention-getting personalities often get the spotlight, but they don’t earn this praise alone. Back-up singers, dancers, drummers, instrumentalists, lighting designers, and vocal coaches all create the magic for the chart-topping celebrities we know and love. Students who have music as part of their education learn that teamwork is a must. Choir singers learn the art of the “blend” when each singer isn’t too loud or too soft, but just right. Band players practice alone and then come together as a whole to work on their sound as a group. Whether in choir, band, or orchestra, each music student is part of a larger team.
Goals and desires are easy to have, but it takes drive to accomplish what you want. Wishful thinking won’t make things happen; action is required. In sports, if you don’t show up for practice, you’re destined to fail. If you show up with a bad attitude or a half-hearted attitude, your practice won’t do much good. The same goes for music. Each person in a group brings their abilities and desire to succeed. Talent alone isn’t good enough; you have to work for what you want. Choirs learn this together by practicing parts of the same songs over and over again to achieve the desired sound. A three-minute song takes hours upon hours to learn. Band members will refine the same section of music because a note is played too soon, or a rest lasts too long, or instruments sound out of balance with each another. Each person’s drive pushes them to create a work of excellence.
The joy of winning is easy for bystanders to see. In sports, winning can come in the form of trophies or the number on the scoreboard. Those who stand on the sidelines may not know the frustration, fatigue, and effort that it took to make it happen. For musicians, wins are just as valuable, although they come in different forms. The applause and cheers from our audiences show that we created something good. The reward of knowing that we gave our best and created something worthwhile to is a reward in itself. Personal growth happens when we persevere through obstacles, and we often learn about ourselves along the way.
Young people will always need to learn about teamwork, drive, and success. These are enduring concepts that need to be passed on to each new generation. The importance of music education is three-fold: it teaches teamwork, it emphasizes the importance of drive, and it celebrates success. How can you celebrate these ideals in a young person’s life?