Phillip Potenziano is superintendent of Brunswick schools.

Every month, there is a plethora of national days to be celebrated. March is no different. As a bit of a trivia nerd, one stood out to me: International Bagpipe Day, which is March 10.

Interestingly, while the bagpipe is most commonly associated with Scotland, many music historians trace its origins back to ancient Egypt.

Despite its unique sound and appearance, the bagpipe is a woodwind instrument. The player blows or pumps air into the bag and then squeezes the bag, sending air through four pipes. Three are called drones, and each drone produces a different note. A fourth pipe, the chanter, has holes that the bagpiper plays to create the melody. All four pipes have reeds, which vibrate and produce a sound when air passes through.

Regardless of whether we’re talking about bagpipes, trumpets, clarinets or the human voice, music plays an important role in our children’s education. Plato said, “I would teach children music, physics and philosophy, but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning.”

I’m incredibly proud that the Brunswick School Department was named in 2023 – for the sixth year in a row – to the list of Best Communities for Music Education Districts by the National Association of Music Merchants. The award recognizes and celebrates schools and school districts for their support and commitment to music education.

Research shows that children exposed to music may experience improvement in language development, literacy, math and science competency, verbal memory skills, and better attention spans. Music also provides opportunities for counting, exploring patterns, helping children remain focused and engaged, etc.


Learning to play an instrument requires discipline and time management – skills that can be applied to doing homework or to becoming a good worker at a first job. Whether it’s a guitar, a piano or the drums, playing an instrument helps improve motor skills and coordination as well. And don’t get me started on the many benefits of dancing to music.

Brandon Duras, our director of instrumental music at Brunswick High School, echoes the cognitive benefits of music education and adds that it offers important life lessons and interpersonal skills as well.

“In a music ensemble, there are so many other people, voices and instruments all sounding at the same time,” Duras said. “It’s a collaborative environment where you rely on other people, and that’s particularly important in this age of technology where kids are more isolated.”

Duras and all our other music educators also teach life skills that students will carry into future careers, whether they play at Carnegie Hall, open a restaurant, become a music producer or a nurse: arrive on time, pay attention to your appearance, learn how to work well with others, be kind to those you interact with, and more.

I saved the greatest benefit of music until the end: It brings joy and happiness. To quote the late Aretha Franklin, “Music does a lot of things for a lot of people. It’s transporting, for sure. It can take you right back, years back, to the very moment certain things happened in your life. It’s uplifting, it’s encouraging, it’s strengthening.”

Few things can boost your mood or reduce anxiety like a beautiful song. Whether you prefer Chopin, Frank Sinatra or Taylor Swift, pick up an instrument, learn how to make a beat on FL Studio, sing a song or dance to the beat, and encourage your children to do the same.

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