Eliminating elementary music would be educational malpractice

David Neves, writing to The Valley Breeze in Rhode Island:

It is important to note that music, and the other arts, are the academic subjects that people, and children in particular, are currently turning to in droves to ease the stress, find comfort, and express their feelings during this challenging time of self-quarantine and distance learning. A stroll through countless social media posts demonstrates clearly the central need for the arts to add enlightenment, meaning, joy, and beauty to everyday lives. Imagine a world without them. Imagine our current lives without the beauty and emotional release and connections that music brings to all.

Mr. Neves is addressing the Cumberland School Department’s proposal to eliminate all elementary music instruction, but his words are relevant to all schools and students everywhere. His brief letter is a perfect summation of why every student needs music education, now more than ever.

Eliminating elementary music would be educational malpractice | The Valley Breeze

Paul Simon Donated $1 Million to Fund a New Music Education Program

Each year, the Paul Simon Music Fellows Program will partner 20 young music educators across the five boroughs of New York City with veteran teachers, who will provide mentorship and skills training over the course of a school year. Additionally, the program will help bring new “artists-in-residence” to schools across the city for 11 weeks at a time. And Simon will be involved as well, curating appearances from special guest artists who will lead master classes for students.

What a great way to spend $1 million: not on things, but on connections, experiences, and opportunities. Artists-in-residence can be transformative experiences for all involved, but schools rarely have the resources to support a long-term vision. 11 weeks of such a program is exceptional.

Paul Simon Donated $1 Million to Fund a New Music Education Program | Rolling Stone

Music teacher quits, says Clarke music, art programs threatened

As a final attempt to save this program, which has provided so much for the students of Clarke Middle, I have decided I must resign my position effective February 17th. I feel that this decision will force our school and our district to think critically about how much our fine arts programs mean to the students and to the community. I also hope that this act will spurn change for the better, knowing that my reputation and integrity might still be called into question. Our students deserve positive change, and our teachers do as well.

This story has been getting a lot of attention on social media and in the local news. Thankfully, all comments I’ve seen have been overwhelmingly supportive of the teacher who was forced to make this difficult decision. This is a terrible situation for someone who appears to be a very devoted teacher.

Music teacher quits, says Clarke music, art programs threatened | Athens Banner-Herald

Santee making sound progress on bringing music back to school

It was the first day of after-school music classes for students in the Santee School District after a decades-long drought.

The district, in partnership with music professor James Sepulvado from Cuyamaca College and Bertrand’s Music in San Diego, just started offering the classes at all of its nine school sites. The Santee School District Foundation pitched in $40,000 to sponsor the classes, pay for instruction and help defer some of the cost to rent instruments, with no enrollment charges to families of fourth- through eighth-grade students.

It’s sad to imagine a school district going decades without any instrumental music offerings, but it’s encouraging to hear about the immediate success of this revitalized program.

Santee making sound progress on bringing music back to school | The San Diego Union-Tribune

Illinois administrators to be awarded at conference

When Foehrkolb came to Washington Middle School as principal four years ago, students at the school did not have music classes every day.

Foehrkolb worked with staff and got that deficiency changed by his second year at the school.

“Our students have music classes every day now and we didn’t cut into their other instructional time,” he said. “It was a no-brainer to get that done. Research has shown that having a music class every day improves a student’s achievement in all classes.”

Other accomplishments by the school districts in Washington, IL:

  • a $5 million high school music building
  • a $14 million middle school music wing
  • $120,000 of new band instruments

Five Washington administrators to be awarded at Illinois Music Education Association conference | Journal Star

Massachusetts Becomes First State To Fund Music Education Inspired By El Sistema

The content of this story is a bit murky but the quotes are gold, such as…

“Mr. Bernice inspired me to do better in my classes. He showed me that through music almost anything is actually possible,” Rivera Heredia said. “And I will always keep a smile on my face — like he does — and be happy about life and stuff.”

And my favorite…

“In Venezuela they don’t have conferences about the public value of music education because they’re too busy going to concerts … And their biggest concerts they don’t have in concert halls because there’s too many people — they have them in baseball stadiums.”

Massachusetts Becomes First State To Fund Music Education Inspired By El Sistema | ARTery

Highland Park’s iBand a unique music education

Is ear training possible with 7th graders? Sure, you just have to pick the right material:

There isn’t sheet music published for iBand, so Driver and her students write it themselves. They pick up how to play by ear, as well as how to arrange and transpose music.

“That’s what’s so cool, because they’re learning so much,” Driver said.

Seventh-grader Brenda Dominguez arranged “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor by watching a video of the song online, playing along and writing down the notes of the song.

“It wasn’t really hard,” Dominguez said.

Highland Park’s iBand a unique music education | Amarillo Globe-News

Teaching Music in the Age of Technology

Those of us who, perhaps not so long ago, remember band or chorus as a group effort with only the occasional talented student solo, would be surprised at how much individual attention Smith can give his students… As he admits, “When I was coming up in the ’80s, I was part of a choir. But I don’t think my teacher knew where I was-what I knew. I certainly didn’t have advanced composition, theory, or sight reading.”

Modern technology has certainly made it easier to individualize instruction and connect teachers with students on a personal basis like never before. This article gives a couple concrete examples of how this is accomplished in a choral program.

Everyday Education – Teaching Music In The Age Of Technology – The Transylvania Times

A Piano for Every Child May Sound Impossible, but in Some Schools It’s Happening

Benefits of Music Education: Why Music and the Brain Provides A Piano for Every Child

Music and the Brain installs 15 to 25 pianos and keyboards in labs in each participating school … Instead of just teaching musical notes to children, Music and the Brain stimulates kids to think, act on that thinking, and become inspired to produce their own sounds. Take the William Tell Overture. In some programs, students may learn to read music and then play the song. With Music and the Brain, students find where notes are repeated, discuss and describe the music and how it felt to them, and create a story to go with the music.

This is good…

“The schools in this country need to go back to where they were in the ’70s when they understood that music education was seminal to children,” Lercari says. “Five-year-olds have so many neurons flying in their brains that they need to use them. The benefit of music is that it makes things connect more easily. Kids are dying to learn and understand, not just music, but they want to grasp this world that they are in.”

… and this is great. Inspiring article on what sounds like a wonderful program.

Punk Rockers Help Raise Money For Music Education

Punk Rockers Help Raise Money For Music Education At Chinatown Elementary School

“She started kindergarten this year and in the first week we got this letter and it said, ‘Can you help us raise $50,000 bucks to pay for our music program?’” … So Wong got his music fundraiser idea. “I love punk rock, and there are all these culture overlapping but they never really contact each other.”

Very cool. Fundraising opportunities are out there, you just have to find, or create, them.