A 12th-grade student in Pennsylvania has done a rather commendable job of arguing for the inclusion of music education in schools, choosing to focus on its mental benefits in particular:
Unfortunately, too many school officials view music classes as luxuries rather than what they are: absolute necessities. Our schools are on the brink of a serious mental health crisis among young people — 70% of public school students with a psychological disorder are not receiving any therapy whatsoever. Yet, what do school officials do? They deprive students of a music education, which is proven to provide psychological benefits.
Schools need to embrace music’s powerful benefits | lancasteronline.com
The Sunshine State is kicking off the new year with a promising development:
The proposal, Senate Bill 110 and its companion House bill 1123, would establish the Florida Seal for Fine Arts, affixed to the diploma – and the resume – of any student who has met a series of established guidelines, including continued participation in arts programs, solid grades and community art involvement.
Grego stressed that the arts are part of the core curriculum in Pinellas County Schools. “We view the whole educational system to teach the whole child,” he said. “Yes, academics are exceedingly important, standardized tests are exceedingly important … but it’s also important to balance that with life skills for students. The arts accomplish that.”
Official statewide recognition of students’ dedication to the fine arts would be a very positive step toward endorsing the importance of arts in education today.
Lawmakers, educators propose the Florida Seal of Fine Arts | St Pete Catalyst
The GRAMMY Foundation created the Music Educator Award two years ago to recognize exceptional music teachers, who can be nominated by administrators, peers, students, and parents. This year’s award goes to Jared Cassedy, a band director in New Hampshire:
As a tribute to the thousands of outstanding music educators everywhere, I cannot thank The Recording Academy and GRAMMY Foundation enough for helping us to advocate for and to celebrate the importance of music education across the nation.
Mr. Cassedy and this year’s other nine finalists will all receive honorariums for themselves and their schools. Much can (and has) been said about the validity of the typical GRAMMY Awards, but it really is encouraging to see the creation and presentation of this award. The GRAMMY Foundation maintains a large presence in today’s music world, and it’s great to see it using its position to promote music education in our schools.
Jared Cassedy Named Recipient of GRAMMY Foundation’s Music Educator Award
We often hear the saying, “We test what we value.” I would respectfully suggest that exactly the opposite is true. In fact, the things that we value and care about the most are those things that are precisely the most resistant to measurement.
Michigan State University’s Mitchell Robinson provides a wonderful essay on the state and future of the arts’ place in a child’s education.
Focus on STEM overshadows importance of music education | Michigan Radio
“The music community, and especially informal music education, can do wonders for improving children’s self esteem and for helping them build identity and character,” said Swietlik. “All of the organizations did this through different means but they had similar results: The children were becoming more proud and functioning citizens within society. They were kids that could dream, kids that could see a future.”
You can talk about test scores and GPAs and neurons ’til you’re blue in the face, but at the end of the day this is what it all comes down to. Kids that can dream, kids that can see a future.
ASU alum enacts positive change in communities through music | ASU News
“It cultivated us. It educated us,” Questlove said of his high school arts experience. “This is more than just pay it forward or celeb guilt. This is necessary. … It keeps you out of trouble. It helps develop your personality. If you take that away, you’re just a machine.”
And just like that, Questlove easily articulates the true value of music education better than almost anyone I’ve come across.
The Roots Are Taking Our Failing Music Education System Into Their Own Hands – Mic
Russ Whitehurst, an education policy expert at the Brookings Institution, says he thinks the statistics about music education say something different. He points to a 2010 U.S. Department of Education report that found 94 percent of public elementary schools offer some kind of music classes, even if hours are being cut back in many places … “I think music teachers are crying wolf, largely, if you look at the national trends.”
Amazing. “Some kind of music classes” could mean literally anything. Blowing on a recorder twice a week. Learning an Orff instrument one quarter and not touching it again for an entire year. Just singing for a couple minutes when there’s an opening in homeroom. Students deserve better than “some kind” of music education.
Music Education For Creativity, Not A Tool For Test Scores : NPR
The entirety of music education, encapsulated in four sentences:
I’d love to believe we all could make the case based on the intrinsic value we gain as individuals or the increased connections we make. It was reported that after the Columbine shootings, those who participated in the drama program were found to be those who healed and reconnected fastest. For these kids it was the only thing that brought them back from that tragedy. However, the bureaucrats speak in test scores and metrics, and we as arts educators need to wage this battle as well.
GRAMMY Awards honor is just the beginning, according to Lou Spisto | Communities Digital News
Professors from Florida, Michigan, and others offer their answers to this question with surprising variety. Some I’m on board with:
Due to a lack of state level policy regarding music education, many children have no music teacher in their school building. Although there are rich opportunities for outside of school community music in the United States, many children cannot afford to pay for music instruction outside of the school setting. Citizens interested in making a difference in music education must advocate for a well-prepared, certified music teacher in every school building.
While others have me scratching my head:
The most important issue in music education today is one that has existed for as long as has formal music education: assessment.
What is the most important issue in music education today? | OUPblog.
Judy Guenseth: Music pays big dividends for kids
Our community does a good job of providing opportunities to listen to great choral and instrumental music including providing free opportunities to students. Let’s do more in the area of promoting early childhood music experiences and finding affordable ways of providing early musical education for all children. It is an enrichment that plays big dividends. Hans Christian Anderson said it well, “Where words fail, music speaks.”
As far as legitimate reasons for getting kids involved in music go, Ms. Guenseth steps foot onto somewhat shaky ground. But I can’t argue with this conclusion.