Music is a key that opens doors to communication, eliminating barriers of language, status, race, or gender. The ability to create music, whether your own or someone else’s, allows the creator a sense of deep understanding of themselves and others. The process of learning requires dedication and determination which is almost always carried over into other areas of life. As the Boys and Girls Club of Bulloch County offers this opportunity to the students in our program, our volunteers are sharing a skill that will serve these young men and women for years.
On a given day, you can walk into this classroom and see anywhere from two to ten students learning to imitate and create. BGC Volunteer Shirley Helmly began with teaching the boys and girls the basics of music theory with the recorder last year, and she has moved on to teaching basic piano to those students interested. Working with donated materials, she works with each student teaching them scales, basic theory, and simple songs to build a foundation of knowledge that will go on to serve them as they learn to execute progressively more difficult tasks and pieces on the 88 black and white keyboards of the pianos in the music lab.
At the end of the fall semester, the student showcase featured her handful of students performing for friends, family members, and BGC instructors – an opportunity that many young people never have. But this class does more for students than provide them with the experience of sharing the skills they have learned. In 2006, The American Psychological Association published an article detailing the profound advantage that music students have over their peers in grades, as well as overall IQ.
At BGC, we want to make every opportunity available to these young people, and music education is one advantage that simply cannot be overlooked. But there are challenges that come with offering these classes. Many students only have access to pianos when they are at their lessons. There are limited numbers of pianos and books for students to make use of, and, while we are incredibly grateful for our volunteers, they are limited in the amount of time they can offer to our students. Nevertheless, these students are learning that, with the help of the Boys and Girls Club, they can not only fulfill their dreams of making music, but reap the long-term benefits of increased academic ability while tapping into a creative part of themselves that may be new.
This semester, Ms. Helmly is looking forward to another wonderful showcase which will give parents and friends an opportunity to see just how much the students have learned and grown since last semester. By contributing time and funds to the BGC, our volunteers and donors are providing more than just after school care. They are providing the keys to success that comes when we allow students to kindle and pursue passions that will allow them to create GREAT FUTURES.