Toss the tinsel, turn up the tunes
by Michelle Standlee, RN
Here in the midst of Christmas season, we are surrounded by reminders of this magical time of year. Bright, twinkling lights hang delicately from the lush boughs of the Christmas tree and colorful, wrapped gifts beckon us to open them. Nativity scenes nestled gently in the snow display our Savior’s birth. But what if we were missing one thing that essentially breathes life into this season, that one thing that gives special meaning to it all? What if we turned on the radio or walked through a store and the only
thing we heard was chatter – or pure silence?
Music. It is the beautiful sound that graces our ears and lifts our spirits. Holiday music and Christmas carols can create an atmosphere of both excitement and peace. In her wisdom, Jane Austen once spoke these powerful words: “Without music, life would be a blank to me.” She recognized how critical music is to life. Music is as essential to the holidays as it is to our community.
Angie Mack Reilly, founder of Ozaukee Talent and children’s musical producer with Grafton’s North Shore Academy of the Arts (NSAA) states, “Music events create a sense of belonging and are vital for the good health of any culture. Simply put, music events improve our quality of life in Ozaukee County and give us a sense of community.” Mack Reilly, who has worked with thousands of children through mentoring, teaching and directing, has lived in and contributed immensely to the arts for 23 years in Ozaukee County. She declares, “The arts industry naturally teaches an awareness and appreciation for human life and the human experience.”
Kat Chronis, new mother of two and owner of Lakeside Music and Naturals in Port Washington, appreciates the benefit of music. She sees it in the beautiful smiles of the children and mothers she teaches in her Music Together with Kat classes. Chronis, a registered nurse, uses music and movement to create fun, unique classes for kids aged newborn through five, with their caregiver.
Another Ozaukee county resident and talented violist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra recognizes the life-changing potential of music. Amanda Koch of Cedarburg recently decided to pursue a degree in Music Therapy, a well-established allied health profession that uses music therapeutically to naturally address behavioral, social, psychological, communicative, physical, sensory-motor and cognitive functioning. Music therapy can be incredibly beneficial for those struggling with a disability or illness such as autism or Alzheimer’s disease. Children with autism and those with Alzheimer’s often struggle with communication, but music can transcend barriers, enabling the music therapist to connect with those most difficult to reach.
According to Mack Reilly, music and “the arts can be a means of coping with childhood trauma and combating depression and anxiety.” After working with many children over the years, she remarks that oftentimes musically-gifted children are struggling with life. She has discovered that music and the arts are ways for these children to express creativity and build confidence in themselves. She also importantly notes, “Our young children need less social media time and more time collaborating with others through the arts in real life.” With the arts extremely close to her heart, Mack Reilly has dedicated much of her life to promoting them in Ozaukee County through her community involvement and production of children’s musical theater. On January 11th and 12th , she will be pulling back the curtain with excitement as the NSAA Stagekids Guest Producer of Elf Jr., a children’s musical performance at the Cedarburg Performing Arts Center. Tickets for Elf Jr. can be purchased on the Cedarburg Performing Art Center’s website: www.cedarburgpac.com . Be sure to catch an early glimpse of the Elf Jr. cast on Real Milwaukee with Brian Kramp of Fox 6 on the morning of January 10th.
Although the holidays are often a time of sharing and giving, Mack Reilly expresses her deep concern for the lack of funding for the arts, particularly in Grafton. She is hoping for businesses to see the value of the arts in our community and how essential they are to our well-being. On behalf of Ozaukee Talent and the NSAA, she is asking for donations through Arts Wisconsin to help support our community youth flourish in the arts. Donations (for Ozaukee Talent) can be made through Arts Wisconsin HERE
Thank you in advance for your generous support of music and the arts which are so vital to our community. Merry Christmas and happy holidays from Healthy Ozaukee, and be sure to turn up those Christmas tunes!
Michelle Standlee is a wife, mother of three, holistic registered nurse and founder of Healthy Ozaukee living in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. While tuning into her favorite Christmas radio station 105.3, you can find her researching alternative medicine, writing about health and wellness and singing and writing Christian music.
American Music Therapy Association. (n.d.) Retrieved from
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