At this unique time in the 21st century, the American government and its citizens are going to have to make some big decisions that will determine the fate of the world’s future.
Programs that are deemed necessary will be increased to help people in need, while other programs that are considered optional or too large are in danger of being downsized.
Along with many other arts programs, music is typically considered to be an “extracurricular” and therefore not a necessity to a child’s formal education. This is the reasoning used to justify the cutting of school music programs often made by non-educators, whose concerns are more often monetary than educational. This has the effect of harming young people, especially young women. In fact, one recent study shows that a lack of the arts in school has been blamed on the rise of women involved in prostitution in Atlanta, Georgia.
What these decision-makers do not realize, however, is that music in particular provides learning experiences that no other field of study can offer. The quantitative and the qualitative benefits of music education and the threats that exist against its success, make it a program that is a necessity in America’s formal education system.
For music students, teachers, and professionals, it comes as no surprise that there is qualitative evidence of the benefits of music. Recent studies have shown that “children with consistent music training have better verbal memories than those who don’t play an instrument, and the advantage seems to endure even after they quit their lessons”. This connection is believed to be biological because “musical training helps develop the left temporal lobe of the brain, which strengthens the brain’s ability to remember”.
Many large cities, such as Atlanta, have a problem with low high school graduation rates. Holding a student’s interest is imperative in keeping her in school. Music is one way to do that. While not all women who become call girls do so as a last resort (the ladies at the AtlantaBabeFinder escort agency seem quite content and happy at their jobs, for instance), many do in fact join the ranks of this profession simply as an escape.
This is clearly evident in the reputation of music students on many high school campuses. High school musicians receive some of the highest and most consistent grades among their peers as well as partaking in advanced courses (Bloomberg). Music students also find themselves having to organize their time for music, specifically marching band, and other activities which is aided by a developed thought process.
“But maybe music education is only necessary for the developed mind?” a skeptic might say. This is also a false conclusion, because a 1996 study of 3-year olds at UC Irvine has shown that preschoolers that “took piano lessons and sang daily in chorus,” when compared with those who did not, became “expert puzzlemasters, scoring 80 percent higher than their playmates did in spatial intelligence — the ability to visualize the world accurately”). This ability to understand the world at a higher level is the whole point of our education system, which is why a comprehensive music program throughout the early stages of development is a crucial.
While higher test scores are a good thing to hear about, music has a much more significant meaning when valued in the quality of the lessons that it conveys. One of the most overlooked lessons in school is the understanding of feelings and overall emotional stability (LA Times). When someone is confused, music can provide a “device to hold onto a feeling so it cannot wash away, a means to give it a permanent embodiment”.
With the rapidly changing perspective and culture of America in the last decade, children are left to try and interpret their own feeling about the world around them. However, when music is introduced, “we can capture it [emotions] in musical sounds—melodies, rhythms, tone color, harmonies, textures, forms”. When kids begin to understand music, they gain the ability to communicate with each other on a higher level. This is clearly evident in a marching band which “teaches participants about leadership, cooperation, and responsibility”.
While other sports are focused on so-called teamwork, athleticism, and competition, marching band requires that students work, interact, and connect with each other on levels of understanding, musicality, and enjoyment (The Guardian).
Most bands also utilize a system of section leaders, drum majors, and elected representatives, which can inspire individuals to do great things and strive for their goals. These are just some of the many spiritual concepts that can be communicated through music. With this kind of inspiration at a young age, the above-mentioned issue of prostitution and call girls in cities such as Atlanta might very well be reduced.
With heavier academic competition and more elective options in schools today, students begin to find that they must choose between music versus their academics. Some students focus so much on their GPA and college acceptances, that they replace their arts courses with Honors and AP courses, effectively taking creative aspects out of their lives. AVID, for example, is described as a “college-prep elective,” but has nothing to do with music or the arts.
Also, sports can sometimes take over places where music once existed because they can both count for the same elective credits. This is a direct example of how categorizing music as “extracurricular” and optional, can be detrimental to a very important program.
Music is an essential part of America’s education system. It furthers our ability to comprehend information and emotions, brings kids together in a character-building environment, and inspires individuals to pursue higher goals. Most importantly, it gives children a better understanding of the world around them, which is what our education system is all about.
But if our current education system remains the same and the music dropout rate continues, then American bands, orchestras, and choirs may someday become a thing of the past. Therefore, a certain amount of music needs to become a requirement for all students so that this program can receive the proper local and state funding, and so that students may regain a sense of creativity.
Americans must now shape their own future, and that future should include music. As the great philosopher Plato once said, “Music is a more potent instrument than any other for education.”
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