Children across continent to perform song simultaneously

NEW YORK Sun May 1, 2011 11:58am EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Children at more than 1,700 schools, from gritty New Orleans to the wilds of British Columbia, unite in music on Monday, when for a single moment across time zones they will all perform the same song.

Singers, violinists, drummers and other young music makers will launch into "I Wanna Play," a song by country music star Aaron Tippin, at 1 p.m. EDT.

The seventh annual "Music Monday" is orchestrated to applaud the benefits of music education, from cultivating acceptance of others to increasing hand-eye coordination, said sponsors National Association of Music Merchants and the Coalition of Music Education.

From young special needs crooners to polished conservatory musicians, "Music Monday" will include musicians of all levels, said coalition executive director Ingrid Whyte.

"'Music Monday' gives everyone an opportunity to be heard." said Whyte. "It allows them to be part of something big."

An estimated 650,000 students in 65 school districts in the United States and 1,679 in Canada signed on for the event.

When the clock strikes 1 p.m. EDT, choir members will open their mouths to sing, trombonists will grab their slides and blow and music will fill school auditoriums coast to coast.

For low-income youth in particular, playing music pays off in more ways than music appreciation, including reducing bullying and boosting attendance, said social worker Giselle Friedmann, who created a drumming program for Los Angeles public schools.

In the drumming program, teachers lead students who drum on their desks and repeat: "I accept you. You accept me. And that's the way it will be."

A UCLA study of the program found group drumming relieved anxiety, stress and defiance, according to findings published in March in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; editing by Ellen Wulfhorst)

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