What Saved Dylan was Music.

Dear Honored Council Member:

I am a parent who would like to strongly encourage you to financially support music education in our public schools.

My son, Dylan, has classic ADHD. He has very limited ability to focus for prolonged periods of time. Dylan’s processing speed is at 9% and even at age 15, he struggles mightily. He dreads school because it is an endless regime of sitting still, trying desperately to pay attention.

But Dylan also sings. He sings opera. He sings pop. He sings country. He sings rock. And he sings like an angel.

Elementary school was a constant struggle. Dylan dragged himself to school, bored to tears and unable to concentrate for longer than a few minutes at a time. After kindergarten, the budgets were cut for the arts and P.E., so he only had music class once a week.

Fortunately, Dylan was chosen for a lead part in the 2nd grade musical. After that, suddenly the kid who couldn’t concentrate became a “famous” singer. At age 7, music class changed the way people looked at him.

Dylan has perfect pitch. As he’s grown, he’s taught himself to play guitar, bass, drums and an amazing piano. He composes exceptional digital music on his iPad. He creates songs where he sings nine different parts and harmonizes with himself – simultaneously.

We spent years in meetings with teachers and principals and doctors and counselors and specialists, having Dylan diagnosed and finally creating an IEP for him. And during all this time, what saved Dylan was music.

When he hit adolescence, he was overcome with frustration about all of the school failures that come with ADHD. His passion and gift for music has been the one constantly good thing in his life.

Being GT/LD is a challenge. Dylan needs to do a lot of things that most kids don’t need to do, just so he can stay afloat. If he doesn’t talk to his teachers he rarely knows when there is a test coming up, or what’s due the next day. He can’t finish his class work as fast as the other kids do – so he has hours of extra homework. And then he can’t remember to turn it in, even after he’s worked on it for so long.

But he consistently makes the honor roll. And I attribute a huge part of his successes to the positive affirmations that come with being a gifted musician. Whereas he once suffered for every moment of every day, we now focus on music to help him push through that ADHD barrier to have solid accomplishments.

My younger son, Shane, has also benefitted from music. Having a musically gifted (and ADHD) older brother can be hard – but my sixth grader plays percussion. Shane is proudly part of the school band. And while he doesn’t have the ADHD challenges, his self-esteem has been raised immeasurably by being part of a musical team. He writes his own songs and studies under “Teacher of the Year” and is happier with his music than ever before.

I hope you can understand that your decision about the Music Education budget has a REAL impact on REAL children. When the budget was cut after my son’s kindergarten year, we collapsed emotionally. We didn’t know yet that our son had learning challenges. All we knew is that he lost a lot of what he loved about school.

We have a chance to save music for more real children. Please keep music high on your priority list. It saved my son in ways reading, math, science and social studies simply never will. Thank you.

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