Commissioning New Music for Choir – Benefits of Commissioning New Music

Commissioning Music for Choir - Michael John Trotta

Benefits of Commissioning New Music:

·     Higlight the importance of the arts

·     Experience how choral singing improves lives

·     Illustrate the life changing power of music

Higlight the Importance of the Arts

Commissioning new music is a wonderful way to show the power of what is possible and shows that can be an integral part of a community, motivating students, involving parents, and provides an opportunity to address the top issues facing music education. The creation and performance of new music teaches transferable skills for a lifetime of success.

·      72% of business leaders say that creativity is the number one skill they are seeking when hiring.[i]
·      On the SAT, students who participated in music scored an average of 31 points above average in reading, 23 points above average in math, and 31 points above average in writing.[ii]
·      Students who are involved in the arts are: four times more likely to participate in a math and science fair, three times more likely to win an award for school attendance, four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, and three times more likely to be elected to class office.[iii]
·      Schools that have music programs have an attendance rate of 93.3% compared to 84.9% in schools without music programs.[iv]
·      Schools that have music programs have significantly higher graduation rates than do those without programs (90.2% as compared to 72.9%).[v]
·      The arts produce jobs, generating an estimated $37 billion with a return of $3.4 billion in federal income taxes.[vi]
·      America is a country full of music-makers. 113 million, or 53% of Americans over the age of 12 are current or former music makers.[vii]
·      Musicians with at least 10 years of instrumental musical training remained cognitively sharp in advanced age.[viii]

Far from being a luxury of the few, arts education empowers a generations of future music makers, and music lovers, filling them with practical skills and habits that contribute to successful careers both in the arts and in other fields.

[i]Navigator: Facts & Figures – Americans for the Arts and Vans Customer Culture

[ii]College Board SAT, 2012 College-Bound Seniors: Total Group Profile Report

[iii]Navigator: Facts & Figures – Americans for the Arts and Vans Customer Culture

[iv]The National Association for Music Education “Music Makes the Grade.”

[v]2006 Harris Interactive poll of high school principals

[vi]American Arts Alliance Fact Sheet, October 1996

[vii]1997 “American Attitudes Towards Music” poll conducted by the Gallup Organization

[viii]Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, July 2012

Experience how choral singing improves lives

In recent years, there have been great strides in research that shows the direct, tangible, positive benefits. One study[i]revealed that singing in a choir can:

·      Strengthen feelings of togetherness
·      Regulate heart rate
·      Reduce stress levels
·      Improve feelings of social well-being
·      Increase life expectancy

It is wonderful that so much good news is coming out to support the power of music. It is one thing to be able to have a belief and experience of the power of music, but know science is proving what we already know: choral music changes lives for the better.

“Choral singing calms the heart and boosts endorphin levels. It improves lung function. It increases pain thresholds and reduces the need for pain medication, It also seems to improve your outlook, boosting mood and self-esteem while alleviating feelings of stress and depression.”[ii]

It is also interesting that beyond physical benefits, there are emotional and phycological benefits as well.

Singing has also been shown to improve our sense of happiness and wellbeing. Researchhas found, for example, that people feel more positive after actively singing than they do after passively listening to music or after chatting about positive life events.[iii]

This seems to be the case regardless of natural ability. Singing in choir makes a difference, not just artistically or abstractly, but to our very body and mind, not to mention the lives of those around us.

[i]https://www.cmuse.org/psychological-and-physical-benefits-of-choral-singing/

[ii]https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/23/daniel-h-pink-shares-why-choral-singing-benefits-health-like-exercise.html

[iii]https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/science_of_singing

Illustrate the life changing power of music

Over 300 hours of video are added to YouTube every single day. This is a reminder that music is a living art form that is constantly being renewed and revitalized. Choral music is an integral part of creating that new music, and commissioning new music contributes not only to the community of the commissioner, but also to the worldwide community of choral musicians and audiences.

If we believe that music is a living artform then it stands to reason that the creation of new music is vital to its current and future health.[i]

A commission involves not only the roles discussed in Chapter 1, but also the larger community and can even extend to the regional, national, and worldwide communities.

Board members, audience members, even the musicians can find themselves changed by being part of a commission.[ii]

When writing new music for a choir, the goal is to make that choir sound the best that they can. One of the greatest benefits to commissioning new music, is that you get to have a piece crafted to your artistic specifications and tailored to meet the strengths of your ensemble. It is possible that in doing this the work may also meet the needs of other directors and choirs who are similarly situated.

With a new generation seeking out beautiful and unusual new sounds and experiences, audiences for new music have never been more enthusiastic[iii]

Beyond that classical music listeners have experienced the following benefits:

·       Lower blood pressure
·       Emotionally available
·       Better sleep
·       Increase life expectancy
·       Less pain
·       Brainpower boost
·       Sharper memory
·       Relieved anxiety
·       Closer to others
·       Higher productivity
·       More relaxation

[i]https://www.theguardian.com/culture-professionals-network/culture-professionals-blog/2014/aug/18/future-new-music-composers-report-pay

[ii]http://21cm.org/magazine/state-of-the-art-form/2015/01/10/new-models-the-state-of-music-commissioning/

[iii]https://www.theguardian.com/culture-professionals-network/culture-professionals-blog/2014/aug/18/future-new-music-composers-report-pay

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