Rachel WhittedAP Lit CompMs. TilleryNovember 18th 2011 Music Education in Present-Day Society War, Poverty, and Disease are major problems society faces every day. These problems in theworld are everyday concerns, real, and under constant debate. Despite constant reminders of theseproblems still no tourniquet has been found to cure these insufferable problems. These problems arehuge and way too hefty for anyone person to take on, and yet individuals constantly complain andremind the world of these issues, but no one stands up for other concerns of a “lesser” degree. Althoughnot as pressing as war, poverty or disease; the lack of music education in todays society is alarmingand an issue that should be solved. Everyone is affected by music in some way, but teaching children how to play instrumentscreates a long lasting effect on children in many ways. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabeecomments on music education and says, “Nothing could be stupider than removing the ability for theleft and right brains to function. Ask a CEO what they are looking for in an employee and they say theyneed people who understand teamwork, people who are disciplined, and people who understand the bigpicture. You know what they need? They need musicians” (“The Benefits of the Study of Music,” 1).This bold statement from someone of high standing shows the importance of music in children today.Budget cuts are being made and the first thing to go in public schools is funding for the arts, but musicis so necessary to education. Music focuses on several things at once and, as Mike Huckabee says, usesboth the right and left side of the brain. When playing music one has to read what is essentially aforeign language on a page, interpret it, continuously count and keep rhythm, listen to the surroundingsand learn to play with others, and focus on the technique that comes with each instrument. A studypublished in the Psychology of Music journal explains how music helps improve reading skills, and
they claim “Several studies have reported positive associations between music education and increasedabilities in non-musical (eg, linguistic, mathematical, and spatial) domains in children” (Piro 1). Manyneurologist and psychologist agree that music education helps emotional and helps with academics aswell. These facts only give all the more reason to fund music education and integrate it every day intoschool for all students. Although budget cuts are necessary at times such as these we need to pushforward and work to push future generations in hopes they can achieve fixing society. Funding music education is a priority that should not be put aside, but the educational processand teaching methods are very important as well. Currently in the United States music education isvastly different from elementary school to high school. Music involvement in Elementary school isdeclining and is a worrisome problem. During the 1970s and 1980s, reduction in music curriculum timechanged from 20-30 minutes a day to 20-30 minutes a week due to various reasons; such as, reducedfrom budget reductions, greater emphasis being placed on test scores in language arts and mathematicsand colleges reducing the coursework in music required of classroom teachers (Colwell 1). Now in theelementary school education although the times are shorter, students now have a trained musician toteach them rather than the normal classroom teachers. Elementary schools need to go back to dailylessons in music to create the better habits not only in music, but in academic classes as well that formsin young minds from learning music consistently and seriously. Requirements for music classes inmiddle school are even worse than those in elementary school. In middle school the CarnegieFoundation recommended a new format to focus on student development, “The arts are often a requiredexploratory course for six to nine weeks at one or more of the grade levels of middle school, anarrangement that interferes with any sequential music curriculum during middle school and lacks anyconnection to elementary school music objectives or to the offerings in the secondary school” (Colwell1). Middle school requirements require art classes, but does not allow for the art classes to beconsistent, but rather sporadic. Children need to be able to experience a consistent music experience sothey are able to play at a consistent level. Without consistent lessons and practice children are unable to
progress with their progress as musicians and the benefits that come from music education do not workin favor of the students. Middle schools need to allow arts, namely music, to be a consistent part of lifefor students to build students up to an acceptable secondary school level so students who decide topursue music in high school can be as successful as possible. Finally, in secondary schools music is achoice to become part of the individual’s school day, but is not funded by the school, but privatelyfunded instead. “No longer automatically providing instruments for students, schools have graduallycome to expect students to own or rent their own instruments and to pay for expenses associated withcontests, festivals, and travel…. Secondary music is, therefore, not affordable for everyone unlesssupport exists for special students” (Jorgensen 1). Allowing the students to independently chooseallows much freer choice for each student, but also excludes those who are unable to afford being in theband program and is unfortunate. Public schooling should try to provide for anyone interested inparticipating in music at the high school level where a true love for music can be found or even just arelaxing part of the day to make friends and do an activity to enjoy. Public Schools need to be able toprovide more readily to allow music programs to thrive to the best of their abilities. The benefitsreceived from getting the best possible education in the arts does pay off inevitably whether throughbecoming better at academics or even just having something to enjoy that keeps children out of troublelike drugs created through young adults that are bored. Ultimately, the music programs in schools needto be better organized and supported by the educational department. So what is being done to help and what still needs to be done? Important people like Jef Raskinare strong defenders of music and speak out their opinions and help out. For Jef Raskin musiceducation was very important to him and it shows when he said, “If I had not studied music, therewould be no Macintosh computers today” (Raskin 1). Throughout his years, Jef Raskin studied musicand took lessons and he now gets lessons for his children and it has affected them all. Music is veryimportant to Macintosh and has always been a priority to make music and art Mac-friendly thanks toJef Raskin. With such a strong influential voice people are beginning to help out in their communities
to the best of their abilities. Without music education many of the things taken for granted in societyeveryday would be unavailable to us, because of the creativity that blooms thanks to music. In Seattle,the Rotary Club has shown an interest in musical education and they know put forth an effect toprovide instruments for grade school children to help them get a head start into music to help themsucceed in high school. David Endicott who started this and got the Rotary Club interested said, “Thisprogram will bring such job to our children, all of whom need art and music as part of an excellenteducation” (“Music Education: Strike Up The Band,” 1). If more people in every community decide topitch in to help out like the Roatary Club helps these young musicians then music education can onceagain become a major part of society for young children. Music Educators have been developing manydifferent reasons as to why music is vital to every child, “In difficult economic times, and when facingthe pressures of standardized testing, school boards often seek to eliminate the costs of musicinstruction from the budget, and the resulting struggle of music programs to maintain a foothold in thecurriculum has sometimes led to exaggerated claims about the power of music” (Hodges, 1). Musicteachers find it difficult. Not only do they have to survive on low wages, but when budget cuts getmentioned, the music program is the first to go. Music teachers and directors choose to teach music tobe able to make children happy and teach them how to make music. When the school boards preventthem from being able to do their job and what they love it’s understandable when they becomedesperate and have to push exaggerations on school board members just to get enough money fornecessary costs. Even other countries are pushing forward to have better music education in theircommunity. In China has developed “Open Universities” to allow anyone in the community to becomea part of the music community. China feels that “The fast economic development creates new socialneeds and raises new demands for a high quality of cultural life….China is gradually taking shape andappears in various forms” (Luyi, 1). China believes that with a strong music education their countrywill thrive better so why doesn’t the United States take steps to allow music education to thrive? In theUnited States music education is an afterthought and not strongly supported by the masses. Community
music is necessary and helps build a stronger sense of togetherness in the community. Another exampleof community music involvement is called HONK!. This new movement encourages the community toget together to freely make music together and allow the community to interact with each other.“HONK! bands represent a new incarnation of a time-honored tradition when there were marchingbrass bands in most every town” (Garofalo 1). HONK! allows communities to enjoy and produce musictogether no matter what the skill level is. Allowing the community to cooperate and come together thisway really brings the community together to allow for stronger bonds and a better, happier community.In America currently a few community music organizations have been created with the goal of keepingmusic in the community, “Community music is alive and well in the US community music groupsflourish in great numbers and bewildering variety” (Leglar 1). Community Music Schools, EthnicPreservation Groups, and Community Performance Groups are all active in the United States today tocreate a healthy music community. Having music in the community and helping out in the schools toprovide for children helps everyone grow and come together for a bigger cause. Music Education is crucial to society today to thrive. Communities get a better sense of beingtogether. Children learn valuable skills and also show they have higher testing scores. Students andchildren learn to function with several parts of their brain at once and are pushed to become betterplayers and musicians. Music also allows for creative expression on an emotional level and also allowspeople to push and focus more and be able to listen and work together better. Giving students’instruments and helping them learn to express themselves helps in a world with so many problems withyouth. Even in China and various other countries around the world also feel like this is an importantpart of society and integrate community lessons available to everyone so everyone can participate incommunity music events. Without music in our schools and communities life would be drasticallydifferent. Music is necessary and society needs to put music on a higher priority so budget cuts need tobe saved for elsewhere and music needs to be funded to the best of the ability whether it be through thecommunity or help from nonprofit funding or school board help. Music education is vital to many
people in the United States and should continue to be cherished.
Works Cited“The Benefits of the Study of Music.” MENC, n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://www.menc.org/documents/temp/benefits_of_music.pdf>.Colwell, Richard, and Carlos Xavier Rodriguez. “Music Education.” Encyclopedia of Education. 2nd ed. Vol. 5. 1718-1726. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://go.galegroup.com/ps/retrieve.do? sgHitCountType=None&sort=RELEVANCE&inPS=true&prodId=GVRL&userGroupName=ca nt48040&tabID=T003&searchId=R1&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&contentSegment=&sear chType=BasicSearchForm¤tPosition=1&contentSet=GALE %7CCX3403200427&&docId=GALE|CX3403200427&docType=GALE&role=>.Garofalo, Reebee. “HONK! Pedagogy: A New Paradigm For Music Education?.” Radical Teacher91 (2011): 16-25, Academic Search Complete, Web. 17 November. 2011.Hodges, Donald A., and Mary Luehrsen. “The Impact Of A Funded Research Program on Music Education Policy.” Arts Education Policy Review 111.2 (2010): 71-78. Academic Search Complete. Web. 17. Nov. 2011.Jorgensen, Estelle R. “School Music Education And Change.” Music Education Journal 96.4 (2010): 21-27. Academic Search Complete. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.Leglar, Mary A., and David S. Smith. “Community Music In The United States: An Overview Of Origins and Evolution.” International Journal Of Community Music 3.3 (2010): 343-353. Academic Search Complete. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.Luyi, Sun, and Gong Zhifang. “Communication and responsibility: Open universities in China and community music education.” International Journal of Community Music Volume 4 Number 1 (Mar. 2011): 15-21. Academic Search Complete. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <httphttp://proxygsu- sche.galileo.usg.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx? direct=true&db=a9h&AN=60504170&site=ehost-live>.
“Music Education: Strike Up The Band.” Editorial. Seattle Post-Intelligencer . N.p., 18 Mar. 2008. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://find.galegroup.com/gic/retrieve.do?contentSet=IAC- Documents&sort=Relevance&tabID=T006&searchId=R1&docId=CJ176853371&prodId=GIC ¤tPosition=3&userGroupName=cant48040&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&sgHitCou ntType=None&qrySerId=Locale%28en%2C%2C%29%3AFQE%3D%28KE%2CNone %2C15%29music+education %24&inPS=true&searchType=&docId=CJ176853371&docType=IAC>.Piro, Joseph M, and Camilo Ortiz. “Music Education Can Help Children Improve Reading Skills.” SAGE Publications/Psychology of Music (Mar. 2009): n. pag. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090316075843.htm>.Raskin, Jef. “In Defense of Music Education.” sbomagazine.com. N.p., 21 Jan. 2008. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://www.sbomagazine.com/7707/archives/january-2008/what-does-music-education- have-to-do-with-the-success-of-apple/>.