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Magical Lessons Learned in Music

Thought Leaders

Magical Lessons Learned in Music


by Kaitlin Gress, Manager of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra and Interim Director of Education at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

“Ahh, music! A magic beyond all we do here!” Albus Dumbledore (and J.K. Rowling) understood the fundamental importance of it. In my short time as a music educator, I have witnessed many magical aspects of the art form. I am lucky to work every week with talented young musicians of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra. While not every one of my students will study music forever, I know many lessons learned through ASYO will continuously help them in other facets of their lives. Below are some of the skills with which they will graduate:


Studying music and playing an instrument takes many arduous hours of practice. Perfecting a passage or confidently improvising are not innate skills. Music students know that being able to play something once is not enough. They have to work until they can play it many times and often in nerve-racking environments. This instills a level of dedication useful in many aspects of life, such as picking up a new skill set or facing a difficult problem.


Yes – many hours are spent practicing passages alone. However, in order to be truly successful in this world, you have to learn to work well with others quickly. Many young musicians start studying with private instructors who guide them through their musical journeys. They are taught early that their individual musicality contributes to the overall success of the musical ensemble.


In our new ASYO Chamber Players program, students work together in smaller chamber music ensembles without a conductor. It is up to them to develop a piece together into one artistic expression. I have seen students sit down and effectively talk out their ideas about the piece. They have learned to communicate their thoughts with their peers, which leads to greater results in the end. The importance of effective communication cannot be understated. Healthy relationships in the workplace and at home rely on these skills.


Creativity sounds like a given, but it’s worth mentioning. In the modern workforce, many employers name creativity as the top skill set they look for in recruits. Through music, students learn to quickly adapt to their environment and offer many creative ideas in their role. They learn to express themselves through this art form. Creativity allows students to think outside the box and become problem solvers. These are the sort of tools that can set one apart in professional environments.

I can speak from personal experience that, while I do not play anymore, the skills I learned through music studies help me through my workday. As a community, we owe thanks to all the private instructors, ensemble directors, and music educators who are inspiring the next generation. The work they do is simply magical.

Kaitlin Gress is the Manager of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Interim Director of Education at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. You can hear the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra’s Finale Performance on Sunday, May 12, 3:00pm at the Woodruff Arts Center.

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