“Music is a piece of art that goes in through the ears and into the heart.”

Music can be a way of reflection, a source of goodness, or just a passion in someone’s life. In Whatcom County, we have a great musical community. For children and adults,  there are many opportunities to learn how to play an instrument. The music teachers I interviewed, are passionate, energizing, and enthusiastic. It was clear their main goal was to pass on their passion, although every teacher had different reasons why they consider music so vitally important in their lives.

violin teacher
Kris Turner began playing violin and viola when she was in the fifth grade.

Kris Turner, a violin/viola teacher, started playing the violin when she was in fifth grade. She was inspired to play by Mark Schlicting, a music teacher at Bellingham High School. Turner reflects, “I used music as my anchor – something familiar that would help me get through difficult times.” Clearly music was very personal and private. She believes that when she plays violin, she feels the music “expressing something that you can’t verbally state.”

Other people play for the physical thrill. “There was just this moment when I heard myself playing, and I couldn’t believe how far I’ve come,” says Mary Walby, a teacher at Discovery Music Academy “I want to give other people that feeling of awe. Just to hear themselves and say, ‘Hey, that was pretty good!’ I want to give that experience to my students.” For Walby, playing piano was a physical achievement.

piano teacher
Mary Walby is a local piano teacher who loves sharing her passion for music.

“Learning music helps people learn hard work,” says Tallie Jones, a local cello teacher. According to Jones, “music teaches people that you don’t need to be afraid of hard work.” She also believes music has academic value. Jones is the Education Program Coordinator for MindPort in downtown Bellingham. “In order to play music, you need to be able to accomplish five things at once,” adds Turner.“You need to count the notes, count the beat in a measure so you can play the right note, count your bow strokes, every piece of music involves math.”  Who knew music was so academic?

Being a musician exposes you to a world of new things. “Playing music is a good way to combine intellectual aspects of your life with physical and emotional aspects.” says Jones. “It shows you a world without words.” Learning music is an experience that not only teaches you about music itself, but it adds another dimension to life. “Music is great because it ties into every aspect of life,” says Walby.

violin teacher
String instruments hang on the wall of Kris Turner’s studio.

According to Bright Horizons, a company that specializes in children’s academic growth states that “learning music at a young age helps the brain develop in all aspects, from motor coordination to overall literacy.” Scientific research has shown that in order to keep your brain healthy, hold dementia at bay, you should play music everyday. Whether you are a child or an adult, if you want to keep a full, interesting, engaging life, music seems to be an obvious option.  Now, the difficult question is, what musical instrument will you play?  

There are plenty of choices in Whatcom County.  Play on! Have fun!

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