EDITOR'S NOTE: Audra's essay is the second-place winner in this year's Rotary Club of Mahomet Young Writers Contest. Students at Mahomet-Seymour Junior High School were tasked with writing essays to convince a wealthy donor, who plans to build a new facility to benefit young people in Mahomet, of what type of facility to build.

"A Music Center"

Dear Ms. Donor,

Have you ever wondered how a community could improve so quickly by doing one thing? My name is Audra and I propose a music center that will be a place for the whole community. You can borrow sheet music from our lending library, learn to play an instrument in our studio with a professional, and take group classes in music and movement.

In Mahomet, just like the whole world, we are always on our phones and electronics. We are alienated from each other. Looking at a screen is an artificial activity, so we feel like we are doing things, but really, our brains are just occupied by the device that is keeping us from thinking. A music center will be for our town, a place of friendship and freshness, rather than depression. It will bring the community of Mahomet together to experience the joy, health, and social benefits of music.

"Research has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness and memory." (Keep Your Brain Young With Music)

Music has so many benefits that help our brain and our lives. Music helps our brains function. Whether it is the young, whose brains are still developing, or elderly, who want to keep improving brain function, music can make a huge impact in our intellectual health. According to a Johns Hopkins ear, nose, and throat specialist, "There are few things that stimulate the brain the way music does." Music is a "total workout" (Alban) because "it boosts 'feel-good' brain chemicals like dopamine, which is a motivation molecule" (Alban) When 13-year-olds and adults took piano lessons, their moods, problem-solving skills, memory, and quality of life improved. (Keep Your Brain Young With Music)

Music also helps hand-eye coordination because our brain is doing a lot of things all at once. This means that it helps athletes, no matter the sport. Your brain gets more coordinated and you can catch, hit, and kick much better. "The beginning stages of playing instruments encourage and support the development of hand-eye coordination and muscle memory." (Tips For Improving Hand-Eye Coordination in Young Students)

Music also helps you get along better with people. "Oxytocin has been called the 'trust molecule' and the 'moral molecule' since it helps us bond with and trust others. There's evidence that the oxytocin bump experienced by music lovers can make them more generous and trustworthy." (Alaban) By bringing people together, music builds community. Music motivates people to come together and grow together; to build relationships. By building relationships, people meet many others and build a bigger, stronger community.

The age range for the music center will be every age -- from babies on up. We will have different activities for everyone. For the youngest, there is a nursery with music. For all ages, there are arts and crafts, where you can make musical instruments out of everyday objects or create while listening to music. Kids can take instrument lessons with professionals in the studio. For adults, there are rooms to relax, read, and listen to music in a cafe environment with professional music equipment. The last room is for musical movement. It is for you and/or a friend or child to move to music in an instructor-led class.

Supporting a music center will help Mahomet as a community because music helps our brain to function, it helps hand-eye coordination, and it helps relationships. The growing community of Mahomet will become a better place.

Sincerely,

Audra Bell