Literacy Through Music
Unfortunately I was never a dedicated reader when I was younger. I do not know why I did not love to read considering either my mom or dad read to me every night before I went to bed, and emphasized the importance of reading to me at a young age. I guess I did occasionally get hooked in a good book, but reading was definitely not my favorite hobby. While I sometimes regret not reading more as a child, I have realized that my literacy in music was very strong at a young age. I know that when people think about literacy they normally think about reading and reading comprehension, but starting in the second grade, I began taking piano lessons, and I believe my musical literacy has helped me in my overall journey to literacy in ways that are often overlooked.
When I was younger, instead of picking up a book in my free time I began learning to read notes. These notes and scales I learned soon turned into songs. I began reading music notes while simultaneously teaching my fingers to dance across the keys to produce melodies that sounded just right together. I was reading and creating something that I could share with other people at the same time. This was something I loved about playing the piano. As I young kid, it didn’t want to sit still and just read a book, but when I played the piano I was able to share the new song I learned, and connect with my audience. When you listen to music, you feel it in your soul, and I knew my audience was feeling the music just like I was.
On another level of connecting with others, I often learned duets and even trios with other kids who took piano lessons from the same teacher. We would individually learn our parts, and then we would have extra practices where we would put our pieces together. As the three pairs of eyes read different notes, and the six hands played different keys we created one complete piece.
Playing duets and trios taught me the importance of sharing ideas and talents. Just like playing the piano together, I have learned to read with friends. When you can talk about books together, you get the most out of what literature offers. This lesson has also helped me in the classroom when reading aloud with my class, or discussing a reading assignment. Just like all of the parts to the duet or trio come together to make the music whole, it is everyone’s “piece” or perspective of the readings that come together and make literature complete. This realization has greatly strengthened my literacy as I continue to learn and work with others.
Playing music helped me connect with others, and I have also always loved listening to music. This love of music started when I was little. It was all around me; music in the car on the way to school, music at home while my parents cooked dinner, and music in my room with my CD player I got for Christmas. While I did not read the notes and know how to play these songs, I loved learning and memorizing the lyrics I heard. My dad’s favorite band Chicago was always playing in our home or in his car. There was something about singing along with him that taught me how you can share literature with anyone. When you share literature, in turn your literacy strengths. As we sang along to my favorite Chicago song, Just You n Me, I learned how powerful words can be. This song was my mom and dad’s first dance song at their wedding. The ability to be truthful in your writing I believe is one of the most important things you can learn. I learned this through hearing the powerful words in love songs like Just You n Me, and in the meaning I felt in my dad’s voice when he sang.
While I loved listening to music with my family, sometimes I would just sit in my room and using my CD player I would pause and play my favorite songs so I could write the words down, and have a hard copy of the lyrics. With the hard copy, I could read them and memorize them faster. I loved how the lyrics rhymed and flowed together, and I found the meanings in each song to be incredibly powerful. When I had a hard copy of the lyrics the song became a tangible thing for me. It was no longer words in the air, but a short story in my hands. Writing down the lyrics made the song concrete. It taught me about poetry and sentence and word structure. These are aspects of music that have been shaping and strengthening my understanding of literacy for the past 18 years.
I know that my love of music has allowed me to relate with many different people, learn about myself, and discover how we are all connected. I find joy in listening to music, and I believe the lyrics in every song are a piece of literature. It is through music, instrumental or vocal that I have learned to find joy and meaning in reading. As I am growing up, I have realized how important this realization is, and how much reading music as a seven year old really has impacted my overall journey to literacy.
I know that music connects people, holds great truth, and can make you happy all at the same time. Music has been in my life constantly for the past 18, almost 19 years, and I hope it continues to be in my life.
Music has inspired me to expand the way I think. It is the bridge that connects me to an article that I read in the newspaper, a story I hear about on the news, or a topic that I learn in class. It is clear to me now that music has been the driving force to literacy in my life.