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Spotlight on Sonny, Music Teacher Intern

"It's very common for a kid to walk into music class exhausted or in a bad mood, and leave with a smile on their face."

Why do you teach music?

I believe that music is an extremely powerful tool for everyone. It’s a universal language that can be understood and experienced by all regardless of background or ability. Learning how it works can also help us better understand how it affects us. It’s important to get kids interested in learning about music from a young age so they can cultivate that interest as they develop, and use their knowledge to help them navigate the world. I love playing and performing music, but I also love feeling like I’m making an impact on the world. Teaching music gives me the absolute best of both worlds in that regard.

How has teaching impacted you? 

Every single day that I teach I manage to learn something new, either from my students or about myself. Teaching has had such a monumentally positive impact on my personal growth and perspectives, and I’m so grateful for everything that it has and will continue to teach me.

How has music impacted your Mental Health?

Music has had an extremely positive impact on my mental health. Music has been my most reliable outlet for getting in touch with and expressing the emotions that I can’t quite put into words. Creating music with other people makes me feel a sense of belonging and community that I can’t find anywhere else. Music has always been, and continues to be, healing in a way nothing else quite has been for me. No matter what the state of my mental health is, I’ll always have music to fall back on.

How have you seen music affect the Mental Health of your students?

I have seen many first-hand examples of how music, and music class in particular, affects the mental health of my students. I can think of several students who started out being consistently grumpy or angry or sullen in class, before gradually opening up and eventually learning to find some sense of joy in the music they were making. It’s also very common for a kid to walk into music class exhausted or in a bad mood, and leave with a smile on their face. I definitely have and continue to witness the positive effects of music on my students.

Why is music education so important for every child?

Even aside from all the intellectual benefits of learning music, the music classroom is a place where every single child can participate and contribute regardless of ability. Growing up deaf, I was often overlooked by music teachers, but the feeling I got when I was stationed at a xylophone and everyone in the class was working together to create music was unlike any other. It made me feel like I was a valuable part of a team that I wanted to be a part of. That kind of joy and comfort is something that many children can only find in the music classroom. On top of that, it also increases cultural awareness, assists in cognitive development, enhances physical development, and gives students lifelong listening skills that they can use to heighten their enjoyment of music, among other things. The benefits of music education for children are nearly endless, and I believe that it’s crucial to get as many students into music classrooms as possible.