March is Music in Our Schools Month, and this year we are celebrating with quotes from some of our close friends in the world of conducting, composition, and music education. Over the years, we have talked to many distinguished musicians, and one of the unifying topics of discussion has been the importance of music education. Now, we would like to share with you their thoughts.
Debra Reilly, Grammy Music Educator Award nominee
“Music is the most important subject a school can offer. Music opens up creative minds. It allows children to be individuals. Everyone is progressing at their own rate.”
“My favorite part of teaching is standing up the night of a concert. If I could do a concert once a month I would do it. Just seeing the pleasure in the students’ faces; they beam with pride.”
Jennifer Schoener, band director and executive director, Upper Darby Arts & Education Foundation
“I think it’s critical to anyone’s education… whether it’s through music or whether it’s through art, people need to have that outlet.”
Sharon Burch, educator and author
“A music teacher has an incredible impact. An elementary music teacher has more impact than any other music teacher in the system. When you think about it, if the school district still includes elementary music in their program, that one teacher has an impact on every student in that student body.”
“A thousand music teachers impact a million [kids]. So it can make a difference to our world.”
Dan Forrest, composer, educator and pianist
“There’s a sense of the whole being so much greater than the sum of the parts. There’s a little magic that happens there and once you sense that magic, you just can’t escape that.”
John Rutter, composer
“I think our politicians need to take note… my gosh do they ever! [laughs], and our educators, those who decide education budgets, church budgets, just need to remember it’s not a frill.
“You express when you sing, your soul in song. And when you get together with a group of other singers, it becomes more than the sum of the parts. All of those people are pouring out their hearts and souls in perfect harmony, which is kind of an emblem for what we need in this world, when so much of the world is at odds with itself. That just to express in symbolic terms what it’s like when human beings are in harmony. That’s a lesson for our times and for all time, I profoundly believe that. It’s like a great oak that rises up from the center of the human race and spreads its branches everywhere. That’s what music does for us.”
Mayor Thomas Micozzie, Upper Darby Township
“It’s probably, unfortunately in some of those children’s lives, the only thing they’ve ever committed to and fulfilled, and are being recognized for.”
Paul Mealor, composer and conductor
“People have always had to deal with this issue. It’s always been a difficult thing. But when something is right, when something is the truth, when something is beautiful, it carries on because it has people to fight for it.”
“When we look at music in schools, we must not look at it as an optional extra. We must look at it as one of the most important things that there is.”
Mark Hayes, pianist, composer, conductor and arranger
“My first piano teacher taught me how to improvise. I only had her for a year and a half but she taught me to improvise. I know that was the foundation for my ability to create.”
The positive impact of music on young minds has been well documented, but sometimes it takes the poignant words of those who know best to truly communicate the importance of having music in our schools. We hope you have found these words both insightful and inspiring. Fostering young minds is a job we all share and one huge key to their success is keeping music in our schools.