Gifts and Resolutions: Adult Classes in Music, Dance Are Beneficial
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Gifts and Resolutions: Adult Classes in Music, Dance Are Beneficial

HCD adult chamber choir rehearsalWho says the performing arts are just for kids?! As parents, we often focus on the importance of helping our kids learn various skills in music and dance, and they are certainly the better for it. (Read our blog about ensemble participation.) Many of us actually found music and dance to be of interest when we were kids, but for various reasons, we stopped. Even if you didn’t take lessons as a child, you can still enjoy the many benefits as an adult. Learning music or dance as adults can lower stress, gives us a sense of accomplishment, builds friendships, and more importantly, strengthens our brains and help us as we age. The stress reduction is especially important, according to Amy Arnsten, of Yale University: “In essence, with chronic stress, you become more primitive”. Luckily, she says, this damage can be “not only stopped, but reversed.”[1] Music, and dance, may be significant outlets for doing just that.

Adult ballet at HCDOur perspective as adults is different, too.  As adults we often see music and dance lessons for what they are, which as kids we might have overlooked: as a true privilege, a chance to try something new, to explore, and seek out ways that we can challenge ourselves, our bodies, and our intellects. Adults also recognize the value of practice. Dr. Jessica Grahn, a cognitive neuroscientist and professor at the Brain and Mind Institute and Psychology Department at Western University in Canada, says “Adults usually have some practice, either with sports or school, at saying, ‘Okay, I want to succeed at this so what must I do? I must practice.'” [2] 

Expanding our circle of friends—the social component—is also important. Noah Blocker-Glynn, Director of The Hartt School Community Division, is both a leader (he is Artistic Director of the Greater New Haven Community Chorus) and student, and he says the social piece should not be overlooked: “I’ve made many wonderful friendships over the years from my participation in music, and I highly recommend adults take a chance and explore the performing arts and the sense of community that they bring. Plus, the sense of accomplishment and achievement is hard to match."

We’re suggesting that your 2017 resolutions, or your holiday gift(s) to yourself, include taking classes in music, dance, or whatever your particular interests might be. The key: don’t procrastinate! Here at The Hartt School Community Division, our next session begins in early January. HCD offers adult programs, which we list below, but any classes—performing arts, or otherwise—can be beneficial.

For adults that might be considering classes, we recommend this piece from The Wall Street Journal about taking music lessons as an adult.

Hartt School Community Division: Adult Classes

  1. Music
    1. Private/Individual Music Instruction
    2. Adult Chamber Choir
    3. Adult Chamber Music
  1. Dance
    1. Adult Ballet
    2. Adult Tap
    3. Lyrical Jazz

[1] Hains, A. B., M. A. T. Vu, P. K. Maciejewski, C. H. Van Dyck, M. Gottron, and A. F. T. Arnsten. "Inhibition of Protein Kinase C Signaling Protects Prefrontal Cortex Dendritic Spines and Cognition from the Effects of Chronic Stress." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106.42 (2009): 17957-7962. Web. 1 Dec. 2016.

[2] Adams, Rebecca. "6 Reasons Learning An Instrument As An Adult Is Easier Than You Think." The Huffington Post., 6 Mar. 2014. Web. 01 Dec. 2016.