“Throughout the day, you can see children and parents walking on campus with violins, cellos, and violas in tow. It is part of the culture” says Wetzel. “This year, close to half of the Lower School student body plays a string instrument. Parents even play alongside their child at the first concert, which takes place in Foy Hall at Moravian College, for an audience of cheering family, friends, and teachers.”
Time magazine notes that when children learn to play music, their brains begin to hear and process sounds that they couldn’t otherwise hear. This helps them develop “neurophysiological distinction” between certain sounds that can aid in literacy, which can translate into improved academic results for kids.
In addition to weekly lessons, Moravian Academy’s Suzuki students also attend a large weekly group ensemble that provides time for socialization and opportunities to show each other the newest songs they have learned to play. In their second year and beyond, they use the software program SmartMusic to help prepare them for performances, which become more frequent throughout the academic year. By fourth and fifth grades, they attend orchestral rehearsals in place of the ensemble. And every five years, the Moravian Academy Lower School strings are invited to perform on the biggest stage of all – at New York’s famed Carnegie Hall, in the School for Strings celebration concert.
“There are numerous benefits to playing a musical instrument. As an educator, I’m most inspired by the current research regarding musical training and brain development,” says Wetzel. “It improves language skills and executive skills that are fundamental to early childhood education, more than any other activity. It’s exciting to see students working and concentrating in order to play a musical passage correctly because, in the process, I’m confident that activity is improving their ability to learn.