Keep Music Education in Schools Thriving

March is “Music in our Schools”  month.  Let’s take a minute to reflect on what life would be like without music education.  No school music concerts to go to, no fundraising efforts to partake in, no music in the stadium or field shows at football games and other sporting events, the list goes on and on!  What a quiet world we would live in!  Music affects a community more than just the concerts or the football games;  it affects today’s children who in turn will build the communities of tomorrow.

Studies have shown that children who participate in the arts programs in their schools are more likely to go to a four-year college, are less likely to drop out of school, have a higher level of discipline, and have the drive to learn new things.  Music students also tend to have a strong propensity towards other subjects such as math, history, science, and language arts.  Did I mention that the creativity taught in music education influences the 21st-century workplace as well?  Try playing in a concert band or singing in a choir, I can’t think of a better scenario to learn team building, creativity, critical thinking, and communication skills.

If music students tend to excel in other subjects, why would you cut these vital programs?  Music is foundational to the rest of the education platform – if you remove it, the rest of the education infrastructure would tumble.  Many music students excel in math, science, history and English.  Today’s students will become tomorrow’s accountants, therapists, doctors, office managers  and small business owners.

According to  physician and biologist Lewis Thomas, “Music majors are the most likely group of college grads to be admitted to medical school” (The Case for Music in the Schools, Phi Delta Kappan, February 1994).  Think about that next time you go to a surgeon.  Don’t you want them to have the best education that they possibly could have?

Speaking of the medical field, physical therapists and counselors are integrating more music than ever into their recovery programs.  For example, a woman who has been in the spotlight recently is Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the left hemisphere of her brain.  Giffords is having problems speaking since the attack due to her brain injury.  By using music speech stimulation and melodic intonation therapy, therapists are able to get patients like Gabby Giffords to sing along to familiar songs.  The singing in turn creates new pathways for normal speech.  By repeating these singing exercises, Giffords is slowly learning to speak again.  She is very fond of music and is able to sing her favorite tunes.  Some patients can literally be mute and unable to say a word, but if you put a familiar song on they will sing along with it.  Music is a very powerful healing source for the brain.  For the full story on Gabby Giffords, click the link below.

There are many examples of how music can affect people without them even being aware of it.  I am a strong advocate of keeping music in our schools – but then again, you probably are too since you are reading this blog.   What are you doing this month to celebrate and make this month a little more musically special?  Draw support by putting on a special performance for the school administration or by having a music history poster contest.  Involve the entire arts department in your school and you can come up with some really good ideas.  Feel free to share your ideas with others by commenting on this blog.

For more ideas on how you can make this month extra-special, check out the MENC website for different activities.   Click here  to visit the MENC website.

Remember, March is the month that draws attention to this important subject — don’t wait to make your voice heard! 

Click here  to read Gabrielle Giffords’ story.

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  3 comments for “Keep Music Education in Schools Thriving

  1. Darrell Illenberg
    March 31, 2011 at 7:40 am

    A very famous quote that is near and dear to my heart is “We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams…”. This famous quote by Arthur O’Shaugnessy has always stuck with me even since grade school and has been my mantra. Music education has played a major role in my life, so much so that I became a music teacher myself. Education over the past couple of years has fallen to the weigh-side due state and federal budget cuts. Sadly enough the first thing to go is Arts Education in our schools. I happen to know this first hand because I am a young educator that has suffered the wrath of losing their job due to budget cuts. More then ever we as educators need to emphasize the benefits of music education to the community. If anything is to save Music Education it will be support from the community! I found the facts in this article to be very accurate and quite informative, but I feel will help further our cause is not just stating the future benefits of Music Education in our schools but to also state the immediate effects as well. We as music educators aren’t held back by standardized testing and strict curriculum like the rest of education, so we have the “artistic freedom” to teach to our students in a way that is not only beneficial to our cause, but also beneficial to their everyday education. What I mean by this is that the arts have the ability to pull from subjects like science, math, and language arts to help students create a more meaningful connection between the arts and their classroom education. Through my own experience I found students to be more engaged inside the classroom when they are making these connections as well as improving their test scores because they were able to create that meaningful connection. We should be focusing on how situations like these are going to benefit our students because it is these examples that are going to get a community to back up school arts programs. If we are the music makers and the dreamers of dreams, then if we dream hard enough we will be able to keep arts education alive in our schools! So I plead to all music educators out there, we are not soloists that are dealing with this issue alone. We need to each play our part in order to make this beautiful symphony that is Music Education ring prominently for many years to come!

  2. January 17, 2012 at 5:12 am

    greetings, great write-up! Absolutely contained interesting info and I enjoyed reading! Thanks again!

  3. February 19, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    hey – fantastic read. Really discussed some good information – I enjoyed! Take care!

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