Toepfer Talk

I was encouraged by our superintendent, Mr. Ruybalid, to start a blog to communicate about activities and programs that are going on in Blue Hill Elementary School.  Although I have never spent time writing down my thoughts and ideas, I look forward to the opportunity to share some insight on all the great things we have going on at Blue Hill Schools!  I will post to our News Feed, but you can also follow my blogs at

I want to talk today about our elementary music program.  Last year, we began the process of requiring all fifth and sixth-grade students to take part in instrumental music.  In the past, only vocal music was required and instrumental music was voluntary.  So, you may ask - why require students to play a musical instrument now?  

I will defer to Plato who stated: "I would teach music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for in the patterns of music and all the arts are the keys of learning."

Often, when we think about the important things students should learn in school - core subjects such as math, reading, science, and social studies, are the first things that pop into our heads. I am not suggesting that those subjects are not vitally important in the academic world, however, it’s our job as educators to stretch our kids even further past their ABC's and 123’s.  We want to make sure that all of our students are getting a well-rounded education that will provide them with the tools necessary to be successful in many different facets of life.  Fine arts is sometimes overlooked as a “necessity” in school, but I believe it’s an essential piece of the puzzle that completes each student’s academic experience.

Studies show that playing a musical instrument:

Requires students to utilize both sides of the brain simultaneously
Improves reading and math performance
Increases ACT scores
Builds teamwork skills
Teaches discipline and responsibility

Science has shown that when children learn to play an instrument, they develop the ability to distinguish between certain sounds that they couldn’t actually hear before.  This ability can help to improve literacy, which results in improved academics for kids.

Is playing an instrument going to be something that every student is excited about?  Is math something every student looks forward?  Is language arts on the list of things that are near and dear to every student’s heart?  Possibly not.  It depends on the student.  This is the reason that we provide a wide array of opportunities for every student to experience.  When our kids leave the doors of our school, we want to be assured that they have had the chance to experience all that our school has to offer!

- Lori Toepfer