When I was in the fifth grade, I started in the band as a trombone player. It was the only instrument I could get a sound out of, truthfully, but it began a lifelong love of music. My parents were a little baffled that Christmas when they got miniature busts of Beethoven and Bach from me. I didn’t see how they weren’t enthralled with the classics.

And while I am not a proficient player like I used to be, that time I spent in the band has shaped the person I am today more than just about anything else. I learned not only how to play an instrument, but how to read music. I learned not only how to march, but I improved my brainpower by memorizing a 10-minute complex set of drill instructions while playing music I had also memorized. I learned not only how to play a jazz tune, but how to stand up and improvise at a concert with confidence. 

I learned to be sure of myself. I learned to speak up for myself. I learned to embrace and love myself as I am. Band does that for a kid. 

Though I am no longer playing, the very same trombone I got back in 1991 is being played now by my teenage daughter. She has embraced the same instrument both her father and I played. She can guess time and key signatures to songs on the radio, and we talk all things band geek to her. It’s the most amazing thing.

But even more amazing is knowing that my daughter will gain some amazing life skills – like how to be confident in who she is, and how to memorize complex algorithms, and how to march backward while trying to reach seventh position and not run over the flutist behind her. 

Studies show learning to play an instrument helps children be stronger with math, with overall brain function and with confidence. If your child has any musical inklings, whether for piano, voice, trombone or flugelhorn, encourage it in them. You’ll be so glad you did.

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