Music in Schools: Turn the Beat Around
We have all been touched by an artistic moment. Everyone has a favorite song or film that is special to them and those feelings can connect them with people who feel the same way. These bonds bring us together as a people and show us how we are similar, no matter how different we may look or feel.
One of the places that many children have their first interaction with musical instruments was in school. High schools had marching bands and even many elementary and junior high schools had some form of band classes. Along with school choirs, all of these classes give children the ability to broaden their horizons and exercise the creative side of their brains.
There have been multiple studies that music education helps develop critical thinking and self-discipline skills and improves a child’s early cognitive development. Studying music leads to improved basic math and reading abilities, SAT scores, and school attendance. On a more personal level, these classes can lead to higher self-esteem, ability to work in teams, and spatial reasoning skills. Schools that have music programs have a significantly higher graduation rate. While the benefits for school music classes seem obvious, many school districts are still being forced to either reduce or remove them from the curriculum, due to budget cuts.
To bring back these classes to your local school, one of the most important factors can be parental involvement. Lobbying your local school board for reinstatement can show the board the importance to childhood development. There are sites, like SupportMusic, that are designed to help parents prove their points with both statistical facts and statements from educators and scientists.
On a much larger level, there are state and national foundations with mission statements of supporting school musical programs. One of the most well known foundations is VH1’s Save The Music Foundation. They have reached their 10th anniversary and have donated nearly $40 million worth of musical instruments to 1,500 schools in 100 cities, improving the lives of more than 1 million children. They have used many ways to get the word out about the situation, including special shows for their network, promoting local contests, and using creative links to bring in both money and attention.
Music programs have been shown to bring out so much more in the student that it would seem to be an imperative to have them on the curriculum. The fact that the educational federal funding re-authorization act, “No Child Left Behind” of 2001 named music education as a core academic subject reinforces music as a vital element in the education of our children. Art and music bring so much enjoyment to the lives of the young musicians. They won’t even realize that the songs they are learning to play will help them in other aspects of their lives, for years to come.
What Can You Do?
- Visit sites like SupportMusic and VH1’s Save The Music Foundation for information and help with promoting the topic in your local area.
- Donate used musical instruments to schools or community centers.
- Attend local school board meetings to promote the benefits of music programs.
- Support local and national politicians that have shown their support for school arts classes.