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Without music, life would be a mistake.
-Friedrich Nietzsche
A recent report from the Education Department shows that fewer schools are offering classes in the arts, as severe budget cuts take their toll. Even more disturbing is that while the availability of music classes in richer school districts held steady, poor students are being affected disproportionately by cuts in music programs. This fact should concern all of us that want our future leaders to succeed and thrive, as music education has proven benefits that help them both in school and life.

It was my 16th birthday - my mom and dad gave me my Goya classical guitar that day. I sat down, wrote this song, and I just knew that that was the only thing I could ever really do - write songs and sing them to people.
-Stevie Nicks
I admit to being biased, as I've been a musician for nearly all of my life. It has brought me the greatest joys in my life and was a refuge for those times I needed it. I was lucky to grow up in Minnesota, where the support for music programs in the schools has always been good. Unfortunately, the relentless budget cuts to schools are affecting music programs here as well. One of the schools that my choir will be singing at this spring has no music programs at all, which is shameful.

It is beyond doubt that music education helps students, and these types of cuts are penny-wise-pound-foolish. Especially in schools with many poor students trying to improve on their test scores, it seems especially short-sighted. Numerous studies have proven that music and arts education help with brain development, math skills, substance abuse, improving IQ (PDF), with other benefits such as improving problem solving, socialization, self esteem. & grade point average.

I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me-like food or water.
-Ray Charles
Even without all the tangibile benefits, I worry that these cuts will leave us all worse off as a people. I worry about the future Ray Charles or Stevie Nicks who never discover their gifts because our broken education system never gave them the chance to sing or play an instrument. How very poor our society will be without their voices to speak to our common humanity. Let us hope that we start funding instruments of peace such as the arts instead of instruments of war and destruction as we have in the past.

I leave you with a final quote, and I know it's true because I've seen it every time I'm on stage.

Music can change the world because it can change people.

Originally posted to legendmn on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 09:35 AM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Protest Music, and Street Prophets .


Does your local school have a music program?

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Comment Preferences

  •  part of the race to the bottom (6+ / 0-)

    education for the upper classes with the goal of an enriched ability to reason

    job training for the lower classes, emphasis on rote traing to tests, lock those suckers into where they have no choice but to work for peanuts...

    fact does not require fiction for balance (proudly a DFH)

    by mollyd on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 09:41:00 AM PDT

  •  Music and drama kept one of my kids interesting (6+ / 0-)

    in school when everything else was boring. A real shame what they are doing to the arts in schools.

  •  Maybe someone could tell the military (3+ / 0-)

    that for every dollar invested in high school ROTC, a matching dollar is required for music and arts.

  •  Last summer... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ... they cut the elementary music budget from 4 teachers (1 for each school) to 1.

    This summer, it will be the elementary art teachers.

    My daughter is going to private school.  She's currently in a (private) Suzuki preschool, and we don't want to give up that advantage.

    •  staffing schools is cheaper (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      than building prisons

      but prisons are now corporate profits generators

      fact does not require fiction for balance (proudly a DFH)

      by mollyd on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 10:31:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  All too common unfortunately (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FlyingToaster, Ms Citizen

      Good for you that you are able to send your daughter to a good private school.

      It's the poor students who have no other choices that I'm worried about.

      SOCIALISM...good enough for the 1%, but made for the 99%

      by legendmn on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 11:02:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  From what I can tell (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        legendmn, Ms Citizen

        ... from the parents on my street, the town's schools are completely overwhelmed.  So any kid without an IEP is getting shortchanged.

        Worse, there hasn't been a teacher's contract in three years, so the teachers are now work-to-rule; no afterschool activities, no clubs, no away trips (the 8th grade trip to DC is being run by parents without the school's involvement).  My neighbor's son, who graduated from here, told me never to send my daughter to these schools.

        We underbought our house back when (long before WarriorGirl), so we are not underwater in our mortgage and not trapped here.  Unfortunately, it would cost more than private school to move to a town with better schools (like 4 blocks and across the river is about 2X prices for houses).  

        You're right, the poorer kids without IEPs are getting the shaft, big time.  

  •  Our school is small and rural (4+ / 0-)

    which creates a challenge. Still, music and art is a priority for the school and for the people our school chooses. We have to be creative.

    The art teacher is shared with the high school. She is brilliant, a young, real professional artist, not just someone with a teaching credential and a key to the supply cabinet. She has been entering the high school kids in juried art shows and some of their work was selected for the connected auctions. She works with the community center to create an event where student work is displayed and offered for sale. She is a talented thinker and is imparting real artistic technique to the kids, starting in 4th grade. I am deeply impressed with her.

    She also runs the high school drama program, and worked to get the drama course a-g certified.

    The music program has been a bit harder. The school had a room full of unused instruments. The school had money for a teacher, but only for one period a day. No one with a credential will drive to our school to teach one hour a day, and the school was not successful in finding someone who could combine music with another subject effectively to create a full time position. So the community solution was to move music to the afterschool program, where a local professional music instructor without a teaching credential can come once a week to work with the kids for a couple of hours. (The school has minimum days on Fridays to facilitate a rich afterschool curriculum.) This has been a big success, with several kids taking up instruments and with the formation of two Rock Band groups for the high school and junior high respectively. The younger kids get music instruction as well.

    There are solutions! Think out of the box in your local area and see what resources you have to work with.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 11:30:02 AM PDT

  •  This is a story that will make you smile (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    legendmn, Ms Citizen

    In Redway, California, which is in the rural North Coast area of California, someone endowed the elementary school to teach all the kids violin and recorder in 2nd-4th grade. The community continues to support it.

    I wish I could pull up a link for y'all, but I wasn't able to locate a good one with a profile of the program.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 11:35:17 AM PDT

  •  our local schools (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, FlyingToaster, legendmn

    have great music programs at the middle and high school levels, but unfortunately our elementary school programs are being gradually cut back. We're in a fairly affluent but also fairly Repub area, where the attitude that parents who care about music should provide opportunities outside of school is growing in intensity.

    Sad. Even more sad to see the impact of CA's budget contractions on schools in less affluent communities, some of which have never had music programs at all.

  •  A response to the problem! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, legendmn, Ms Citizen

    One group that’s doing something about this problem is School House Symphony Inc. (

    The goal of this organization is to teach music appreciation rather than music performance, with the hope that the School House Symphony experience will produce future generations of music lovers, music fans.  

    Unlike the traditional approach to music education, which focuses on music performance, students are taught active listening skills rather than music performance skills.  Not everyone can be a musical performer, or has the desire to do so, but everyone can listen to, appreciate and enjoy music, and it is from programs like School House Symphony that the future supporters of music education will come.

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