Wednesday, September 8, 2010

what i think about music education cuts

less music, art, and physical education for oregon students: http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2010/09/many_oregon_students_will_have.html

i am, naturally, a proponent of art and music curriculum. why? because i believe creativity is important. creativity is self expression-- i see art and music as a tangible or audible way for people to relate the way they see the world to themselves or others.

and so often, it's not fostered. in a culture where things are pre-created, whether that be with tv shows, movies, video games-- kids are less and less called upon to create their own world. it's only part of the reason i think art/music is all the more important in public education.

i feel so strongly about music programs in particular because of the impact they have had in my life. i can say honestly that i would not be writing music and singing today if not for my middle and high school choir teachers/choral programs. so that is what i will focus on.

when i went to high school, 130 kids were in choir. the total enrollment at the high school was approximately 1500, so the amount of students in choir translates to roughly 10% of the entire student body. this percentage does not include students in the band and orchestra programs. i would estimate at least 20% of the school was involved in a music program of some sort. needless to say, being a part of a musical group appeared to be pretty important to a large group of people. which i think speaks to the importance of music programs.

this is what i've learned in my years of involvement with music programs:

music teaches students how to function as part of a bigger unit-- and realize that their individual contribution is an integral part of the group as a whole. it is unifying-- students from a cross-section of groups and backgrounds and levels of talent work toward a single goal. they learn to blend, to suppress the diva inside of them and listen to those around them. additionally, students are given a sense of ownership of their accomplishments-- the final product is a culmination of both their own hard work and the work of their peers. regardless of whether or not someone is bound for a solo singing career, students can take pride in being part of the sound created by the group. it builds community--most people i talk to about former band, choir, or orchestra experiences have memories of trips they took or competitions/festivals they took part of as a part of their music group. it gives identity-- you don't even have to be the best of the musicians to identify as a part of a group. and identity gives empowerment. i feel similarly about organized sports. being a part of a team-- winning and losing together, considering the needs of the team before your own, yet realizing your efforts are vital for the team's success-- is important.

furthermore:

it can provide self confidence in children who do not excel academically.

it makes for a more well rounded person.

it provides kids an exposure to music they would have otherwise not had (especially if their parents cannot afford to send them to private lessons)

in the early days of music education, foundations for mathematical concepts are built (the way music is organized, i.e., 4 quarter notes make a whole note, 2 half notes make a whole note, etc.)

i hold the same to be true of art and pe.

art encourages self expression. individuality.

physical education encourages a healthy self image. if you are capable of being active, if you have a healthy lifestyle-- you feel better about yourself, which is particularly important to children.

i think that about covers it. did i miss anything?

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