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Another View: Music matters more than ever

Another View
By: Bill Kenney, Auburn Symphony
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Much has been made in the news lately about the financial struggles facing our public schools here in Auburn and the foothills area in general. Indeed, these are trying times for many organizations, businesses and non-profits, the Auburn Symphony included. All of us are groping for answers on how to continue with our mission, maintain financial stability, while remaining committed to our desire to give back to our community. The sad fact is that when school districts face bleak economic times, among the first programs to be cut are those in the fine arts, including music. For many reasons, cutting off our children’s access to music has far reaching negative outcomes. For starters, scientific research has shown that early exposure to music in children directly benefits their brain development and learning skills. A landmark study by University of California, Irvine, neuroscience researchers Dr. Francis Raucher and Dr. Gordon L. Shaw, working with 3-year-olds, revealed that learning music drastically improved their spatial skills, which are a key building block in developing strong math skills. In pop culture parlance, this is referred to as the “Mozart Effect.” Furthermore, it is critical that young people get exposed to music early, so when they get to retirement age they will remember their own connection and make it a part of their lives. Conversely, if our children and grandchildren grow up without a strong, direct experience with music and the arts, they will not be inclined to embrace them later in life when they have more leisure time. As public education money for the arts wanes, this is becoming a huge challenge facing the arts community in the 21st century. That’s why the Auburn Symphony remains committed to its programs targeting young people and our outreach to local schools. For the past 11 years, the symphony has offered a “KinderKonzert,” geared toward children and their families, and, for the past decade, the symphony has engaged some 6,000 students per year in its “Symphony Goes to School” program. Both of these great programs have been, and continue to be, spearheaded by longtime board members Pat Siedel and Audrey Mueller, and their committee, without whom these programs would never have gotten off the ground. Due to our own financial constraints, we’ve had to take a one-year hiatus from our school outreach program, but we remain committed to it and plan to bring it back next year. On Saturday, Feb. 20, children and their families have yet another grand opportunity to enjoy a concert designed as an introduction to classical music. This year’s KinderKonzert will feature Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf.” Once again, the symphony is reaching out to several of our local elementary schools with our Adopt-A-School program. Through Adopt-A-School we will enable 200 children and parents to attend our concert for free. This special program will be presented at 11 a.m. at the Placer High School Auditorium in Auburn. Tickets are only $7 for this wonderful and varied program. Visit our Web site at www.auburnsymphony.com or call (530) 823-6683 for more information. We hope you’ll come out and support the symphony as we continue to do everything we can to bring music to our children. Bill Kenney is the president of the Auburn Symphony Board of Directors.