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
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
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
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
It’s always great to hear of new tangible benefits to music education discovered through scientific studies:
a new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience…shows for the first time that playing an instrument, and not just listening to music, shows real improvement in the literacy and language function of your child.
Study Finds Learning to Play Music May Improve Language Skills in Kids – NY1
“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
Northwestern University neurobiologist Nina Kraus spent two years tracking 44 6-to-9-year-olds in the program and then measured their brain activity. She found a significant increase in the music students’ ability to process sounds, which is key to language, reading and focus in the classroom. Academic results bore that out: While the music students’ reading scores held steady, scores for a control group that didn’t receive lessons declined.
A couple great tangible examples of the exact ways in which music affects the brain.
A Musical Fix for American Schools – WSJ
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