Monday, December 5, 2011

MUSIC Monday: Public School Music Funding Needs a Hearing Aid

by Daryl Allison    
Do you hear that?  Listen closely, behind the silence.  This isn’t a sweet silence, not to frame a pin drop.  Missing are strings stretching, horns waking.  Missing are rising waves of creative expression, cacophonies of misplaced, amateurish, aspiring, beautiful notes.  That joyous, clanging clutter was what it sounded like before, when we took for granted the funding of our public school music programs.
Before long … The music room is empty save for old instruments collecting dust.  Few students know what’s behind that door, locked since before they first attended this school.  None would know the names of those strange contraptions anyway.
Do you hear it now?  It’s the lurking contagion of apathy. Echoing off the concert walls: Yawns. Bored students who don’t know that with our help school can be fun again, a place of personal and social creative exploration.
Big sports make big bucks.  We wouldn’t dream of cutting them.  Not every child is has athletic aspirations.  For all the others, what is their outlet?
We all know how integral music is in the developmental years.  Can you imagine a kindergarten class without it?  Countless facts sing music’s benefits on a child’s learning.  But we don’t need research data.  We know in our hearts this is true.  If we know music aids learning, and we wouldn’t dare take it from our kindergartners, then why are so many deaf to what is happening in our middle schools and high schools: funding for music programs being cut at an alarming rate.
The value of music:
·         SATs – Music Performance students scored 57 points higher on verbal, 41 higher on math; Music Appreciation students: 63 points higher on verbal, 44 higher on math.

·         A study of 237 second grade children used piano training and math software to demonstrate improvement in math skills. The group scored 27% higher on proportional math and fractions tests than children who used only the software.

·         Students who participated in band or orchestra reported the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances (alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs).
The value funding places on music:
·         3 to 5 times as many schools see funding for music cut on a yearly basis than schools that see their funding increase.
Funding isn’t diminishing solely due to a rough economy.  The market crashed in 2007, right?  Check the charts linked in that last bullet.  The data looks the same since 2005, and probably before.  What was the excuse then?
Music funding is needed most in a down economy.  As funding is lost, so go talented teachers.  If we wait for things to turn themselves around, what then for the students who must suffer the consequences of actions too little, too late.

photo by minkymonkeymoo

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