Musical Instrument Shelves

Kids + music = Good Times

Tracey Columns

A few weeks ago I shared an activity with you that my family has adopted. Throughout our busy days, we stop long enough to drop a note into a special jar, for no other reason than to remind ourselves of the goodness in our lives.

Naturally, I’ve heard from a few readers about the idea. Some were strongly in favor of such an activity, promising to go out that very day and “get a jar!” Others, however, have been well … judgmental about the entire exercise. I feel a certain sadness for those people who are so jaded, so cynical that this simple little exercise raised their hackles.(Really, with all of the bad news surrounding us 24/7, there are bigger fish to fry.)

But what I find especially unfortunate is that these people could be a happier, more contented bunch if only they would risk trying something a little different. This is not just my Pollyanna self spouting sunshine and light. Folks, this is hard science.

Every thought we have carries with it a biochemical response. Think something happy and our physiology is flooded with one kind of hormone cocktail. Think something negative, and a different mix courses through our systems.

Now, I am the first to admit that a little jar full of happiness is not the cure for a depression resulting from life’s many challenges … but it may be a simple tool that could help people get, and keep, some balance and crucial perspective in their lives.

For example, I added a note to my little jar last week after my husband and I attended the Humboldt Music Academy’s Honor Recital. For those of you unfamiliar with this wonderful institution, the Academy was founded in 1983, as a joint partnership between Humboldt State University’s Music Department and HSU’s College of eLearning and Extended Education. This talented and dedicated faculty offers individual and class music instruction to children between the ages of 2 and 18. It’s a wonderful opportunity for kids living in our isolated community. Through HMA, children learn from some of the best while expanding their skills through performance opportunities.

I had been wanting to attend this recital for awhile. Our dear friend, Terry Kramer, teaches violin at the Academy and she has the good fortune to have two of our favorite little girls, Aurora and Trillium, as her students. It promised to be a wonderful afternoon.

Settling into our seats, the performance venue felt huge to me. I suppose it was because the day’s performers were children, young, determined musicians getting ready for their big moment. Having sat though our own children’s countless recitals (piano, violin, and flute … how did we do that?) I was keenly aware of the nerves swirling around the room. (Naturally, it seemed as though some parents were more anxious than their offspring. Oh, how we sweat for our children!)

But the room was also filled with a certain friendliness, a warm camaraderie among children, faculty, and parents. Clearly, everyone in that hall was looking forward to the same thing – a positive performance experience for the students.

No one was disappointed that day, certainly not this audience member. I sat there, listening to all of these talented, hard-working kids, feeling gratitude for who they were and the families they came from. (I can still recall  the hours of practice, the miles driven, and yes, at times, the tears shed.) I felt very proud of these students!

If you have a young musician in your family, consider finding him/her this kind of opportunity in your community. No children or grandchildren musicians in your family tree? Then, perhaps you might at least consider tucking this column away in the ‘good news’ part of your brain … or maybe even in a jar!

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