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Pops at the Post: Music inspires young ones to live, laugh, love

After the recent Spring Night Out in downtown, Nellie and her friend hung out with me at the Post while I finished a story.
The 10-year-olds scrawled advice for the Post staff on a dry erase board: “Live, laugh, love,” and “Note of the day: Write away you little writers!”
Then they raided the candy jar.
When we left, we used the back door on Church Street and walked across the Post’s loading dock. As we strolled under the large covered area, Nellie’s friend looked around and suddenly had a revelation.
“Oh!” Emily exclaimed. “This is where they have Pops at the Post.”
It really is surprising that the industrial, ink-stained loading dock can be transformed into a stage fit for the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra.
Surprising as well that the parking lots across the street can become host to a sea of lawn chairs and blankets for thousands of listeners.
I’d bet that most children over the age of 4 or 5 who attend Pops at the Post even once will always remember it. Such a unique experience is hard to forget.
I think kids love Pops at the Post so much because it combines two of their favorite things: music and being outside.
And a huge helicopter. Make that three of their favorite things.
Unencumbered by the formality of an indoor music hall, kids in the P@P audience are free to tap toes and clap hands and even dance where space allows.
They can slurp popsicles and eat pizza and roll around on blankets while waiting for the highly anticipated cannon shots that many know are coming.
Unaware of the intangible benefits of hearing such incredible music, kids at the concert are just doing what they do best.
They’re having fun.
But their brains are soaking it in ó the layers of sounds from the string sections, the intricate rhythms from the percussionists. The soaring notes of an oboe solo, the soulful melody of a guest vocalist.
Many children are not exposed to classical music on a regular basis, much less a full orchestra. Pops at the Post offers an unintimidating way for the whole family to enjoy one of Salisbury’s gems and hear overtures, marches, even movie theme music.
Did I mention it’s free?
I suspect that more than a few children who take in Pops at the Post, even once, will be inspired to learn to play an instrument themselves.
Some will choose the violin, others the cello.
The luckiest ones will find their way to the clarinet.
When kids learn to play an instrument, scientists believe they develop areas of their brain critical to language and reasoning.
Studies show that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language.
Science also has found a link between music and spatial intelligence, or the ability to perceive the world accurately and to form mental pictures of things.
Kids need this kind of intelligence to solve advanced mathematics problems, as well as to complete simpler tasks like organizing.
Children who learn to play an instrument also learn craftsmanship and the value of doing something over and over until you get it right.
They learn discipline and empathy. And those who play in an ensemble learn teamwork.
If that’s not enough, studies show that kids who play an instrument score higher on standardized tests and get better grades in high school.
So take your kids to Pops at the Post on Saturday.
It just might inspire them to live, laugh, love … and play music.
nnn
Emily Ford covers the N.C. Research Campus.

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