Music education in schools at Woodstock

The Advanced Choir at Woodstock School

I was privileged enough to attend a series of three Fall concerts last semester at Woodstock, which showcased the extraordinary musical talent at the school.

The concerts featured performances by the junior, intermediate and advanced bands, orchestras and choirs. The chamber acapella singing group also performed, along with the Junior School Tiger percussion ensemble and strings group, and the Orff Club.

Some of the highlights over the three evenings were the advanced choir’s spine-tingling performance of O Fortuna from Carmina Burana, and their uplifting performance of African Allelluia by Benjamin Harlan, which they also repeated in the Christmas Chapel.

A South Korean student Ein also played beautifully Weber’s Concerto for Clarinet, accompanied by the advanced orchestra. I thought the concerts were a glowing testament to the hard work put in by students and music faculty over the semester.

But why is it that music is such an important part of the curriculum offered at Woodstock? Does music education in schools really matter?

Abe Okie is the choir director and AP music theory teacher at Woodstock. He praised all the students who took part in the concerts, and explained the reasons behind the prominence of music at the school:

  • Music is such an integral part of the Woodstock curriculum as it teaches discipline, focus, critical thinking, listening and motor skills, and emotional expression.
  •  There’s a plethora of studies which demonstrate that music education correlates closely to academic and social success. High school students who play an instrument or sing consistently in a choir perform better in SATs, earn better grades, and receive more awards.
  • There are health benefits. For example, some studies focused on the elderly found involvement with music reduces depression, anxiety, and delays dementia.
  • There’s a substantial body of evidence which indicates that music education delivered in the early years improves spatial-temporal intelligences which in turn boost maths learning skills.
  • Music concerts and learning are a chance for our students to encounter really great musical works of art from the past 500 years or so.

So there you have it. Evidence that as well as being a fun activity and a new skill to learn, music education in schools offers so many all round benefits to a student.

Read more about the music education on offer at Woodstock.