Schools across the nation are tightening their school budgets, making them cut certain programs. However, when these budget cuts come along, one of the first things that is cut is the music program to enable the
school district to make room for “necessary” classes. But why cut the music program when it has been shown that music helps develop better social skills, leadership qualities, and improve academics?
All over the country, school districts are facing tight budgets that are causing the districts to cut non-academic programs. These non-academic programs that are being cut are mainly the music programs in public schools across the nation.
According to studies by the Gallup industry, “Budget cuts and shifting priorities have placed the music programs in more danger than ever. Already, up to 28 million American students do not receive an adequate music education, and cuts in education funding are either pending or have been enacted in more than half the states nationwide” (Salvestrini). School districts are looking at what subjects they consider to be “core subjects,” and in most school districts the music program is not fitting their definition, which is why the music program is one of the first subjects to be cut. The school districts are looking to build more classrooms for science and math courses, as well as decrease class sizes. In order to do this without having to add on to the school building, the school districts look for what they find to be a beneficial class. Therefore, the music education program is an area where the school district can achieve their goals by cutting that program out. Studies have shown that the music education program is very beneficial to students.
This is why schools across the nation should save the music, so the future students have the opportunity to be involved, improvement in the students’ academics, students having more self-discipline, and the development of the students’ social skills. Because of these benefits, organizations outside of the school are trying to save the music, such as, VH1 and supportmusic.com.
These budget cuts are not only affecting the students of today, but they also have a huge effect on the future students who may not even have the option of participating in a music program. In one of the recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reports, “only 25 percent of eighth graders nationwide had the opportunity to take a music class” (Music). Now these budget cuts are not allowing the school district to decide, but the voters have the say in what goes on in the school district by way of their tax money. Elizabeth Nesoff, an author for the Christian Science Monitor, wrote an article about the budget falling in the August 2003 edition. She goes into greater depth, than the article about music education by implying that, “A lack of cohesive community concern for education and a greater focus on individual interests as part of the problem, namely that people without children are not always interested in funding school programs. It’s getting much more difficult to convince people that music… for some people is as important as tax relief for a lot of people”(Nesoff). Parents that have children in the music program should do what it takes to keep the program going, so that the future students can have the same opportunity. “Music education programs get cut because decent people are trying to make tough decisions in hard times. If people want ongoing music education in school, they have to let the policymakers know how much music education programs contribute to their kids every day of the school year” (Nesoff). These budget cuts have a big impact on the educational opportunities of the children of today and the children of tomorrow. “You can’t cut music without cutting something important out of our kids’ lives. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see that where there’s no quality of education, there’s probably not a music program” (Nesoff). Therefore, the district shouldn’t cut the music program for the students today or tomorrow.
Being an active participant in a music program helps students greatly with their academic studies. Nesoff implies that “Without music education, many fear a bleak future for children. The real issue is that we will have a society that is impoverished, that doesn’t have the cultural roots or the educational and discipline benefits that come from music education”(Nesoff). This quote states that without music education our society may lack academic improvement. Even the fundamentals of music have been proven to improve a child’s knowledge. An article called “Fun with Languages Responds to the Need for Music Education at Home and In the Classroom” backs up what Nesoff had to say by stating the fundamentals that music may improve in the students’ skills in our society. “Music helps children to learn math. When children learn rhythm, they are learning ratios, fractions, and proportions” (Fun). The music program not only improves the students’ math skills, but also their verbal skills. Students can learn from different foreign languages and cultural difference by the variety of music piece the instructor chooses. These skills help out on the verbal part of academics. Along with improving a child’s knowledge and understanding of their school subjects, members of the music program that have taken the SAT or ACT have scored higher than those students not in a music program. According to supportmusic.com, a public service to help out the music education implies that, “Students with coursework/experience in music performance and music appreciation scored higher on the SAT: students in music performance scored 57 points higher on the verbal and 41 points higher on the math, and students in music appreciation scored 63 points higher on the verbal and 44 points higher on the math, than did students with no arts participation” (Support Music). This quote shows that students who are part of a music program have a big advantage over those students who do not participate in the music program, mostly in the Math and English classes. The long-term benefits of these advantages is that the participate can carry these math and reading skills with them in the future, because it is important to know how to read and do math skills in life, such as the work place, finances, and everyday life situations.
Along with having an advantage in classes, students that are a part of the music program tend to be more disciplined. An article by VH1 Save the Music states, “Researchers have found that children involved with music education are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college, and are less likely to be involved with gangs and substance abuse”(VH1). Not only do students in the music program stay in school, graduate, and stay out of trouble, but skills that are learned through the music program do not just apply to school, but when they are older and out of school. Salvestrini backs up VH1 by stating, “The new findings come on the heels of a decade of scientific research linking active participation in music with improved mental capacity in young children, students, and the elderly”(Salvestrini). This shows that students in the music program tend to more disciplined at that time and in their future. Students in the music program tend to be more disciplined, because the program teaches the students time management by being on time for practices and rehearsals. Some music students also play to relieve stress, which is better then doing some harmful act. The music program promotes better standards, because it allows the participates to stay actively involved in an activity and shows that they can be dedicated to one thing, therefore staying out of other harmful things, such as gangs.
Along with self-discipline students can gain important social skills. In an article called “Inclusion in the Community,” Sonia Blandford states, “An inclusive approach to community music outside the classroom develops both technical and social skills of participating students” (Blandford). As a part of the music program students have to communicate with each other and form common bonds with other members of the music program, which allows groups of friends to develop. Within a group, students have to learn the social skill of leadership by taking a role and improving the groups’ ability. Also within a group, students learn the skill of problem solving, by giving each other feedback and making group decisions together. An academic article called “Role of Music Therapy in Social Skills Development in Children with Moderate Intellectual Disability” goes into greater depth than Blanford by stating the exact social skills that can be taught in a music program. “Five social skills were targeted for intervention: turn taking, imitation, vocalization, initiation and eye contact” (Duffy). Members of the music program also have a greater self-esteem, because they feel that they are a part of a group and are all striving for a common goal. Along with the students having a close group of friends and an increase in self-esteem, members feel a sense of belonging to the music programs, because they are a member or a part of something. This sense of belonging gives the students who are in the program a sense of pride about the things that they are doing in the program.
By working hard for a common goal, and striving for excellence, memorable experiences occur because of the opportunities that the music program provides. In my time spent in the music program I have had many experiences of a lifetime, some experiences I would not have been able to be a part of if I were not an active member of the music program in my school. These experiences range from contests that were hours away, to weeklong trips to Virginia Beach, to a day at amusement parks with fellow members, to parades, to concerts, and the many hours spent practicing to be perfect. People outside of the music program usually don’t know the feeling that a band member gets when their hard work pays off and the group receives a superior rating at a contest. These are the experiences and times that students know that what they are doing means something and matter to people other than them. The music program offers so many opportunities for students to have life long memories that they could not get in any other class.
Music programs are being cut all over the country to help school districts fit their budget, so who is out there trying to help keep music programs in schools across the nation? In fact, there are multiple organizations that are working toward a common goal: bringing music programs to schools that do not have them. These organizations range from the well-known VH1’s Save the Music, to many more not so well known music help programs such as supportmusic.com.
VH1 is one of the top organizations trying to save the music. “The VH1 Save the Music Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improve the quality of education in America’s public schools by restoring programs in cities across the country, and raising awareness about the importance of music participation for the nation’s youth”(VH1). With six years of help the VH1 Save the Music program has helped provide over $25 million dollars to many schools so that they have the money to support a music program. In their six years VH1 has put on a variety of concerts and started the “VH1 Save the Music Week” to help make the money that they donate. One of VH1’s top-rated shows is their annual “VH1’s Divas Duets,” which features some of today’s hottest music stars such as Beyonce, Lisa Marie Presley, Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Chaka Kahn, Jewel and Ashanti. VH1 has also teamed up with American Express to create “Blue and Save the Music,” which helps make donations to “Save the Music” when people use their American Express card. Even though VH1 Save the Music Foundation is a major part in helping out of music programs in schools, they are not the only group raising money for this cause.
Another group that is fighting for the common cause of saving music programs is supportmusic.com. This was a website, which was launched by the Music Education Coalition, to be “an easy-to-use resource offering information about how parents and community members can work to ensure that music is an integral part of a quality education for all children” (Support Music). This organization is open to anyone who wants to build a case as to why music education needs to be in schools and to help fight the budget cuts that are killing the music programs. Nesoff says, “By checking a combination of boxes ranging from budget cuts to lack of facilities, advocates can target their school’s problem and create a plan for arguing their points before administrators” (Nesoff). The co-sponsor of supportmusic.com said, “Music enriches all of our lives. We know that music education increases achievement in school. Programs like supportmusic.com equip teachers with yet another tool as we work together to increase achievement in children” (Support Music). This shows that Support Music and VH1 give hope to our future musicians.
With all of these organizations helping out the music program, why are music programs still being cut from schools across the nation? The problem, people may think, is that, even though these groups are helping certain schools bring music programs to life, there is just not enough money and support to reverse the effects of budget cuts on every school. But the problem is that there will always be schools that have money problems, and when this happens they will have to cut certain programs to decrease their costs. But, after all the good the music program provides, why cut the music program? The music program may provide more skills and standards than other classes, so why not cut some other class? It also seems like schools are adding some other class or activity to their school district adding more cost to their budget, such as industrial arts, photography, or even drafting classes. On the other hand, with the organizations helping out, schools could rely on these organizations to provide a budget for the music program. This is not fair, because there is a unequal treatment of different departments in the school. Due to all the benefits of music, the music program should be treated the same as other classes.
In conclusion, I believe that all schools should save the music program by keeping the class in their curriculum. The budget cuts that the school district is taking apart of is not only affecting the students of today, but future students as well. The music program also helps students greatly with their academic studies and the students have more self-discipline. Although there are organizations that are helping the music program, schools shouldn’t rely completely on these organizations. So why not save the music education in schools?
Blandford, Sonia. “Inclusion in the Community: A Study of Community Music Centres in England and Portugal, Focusing on the Development of Musical and Social Skills Within Each Centre.” Database: Academic Search Premier June 2004.
Duffy, Barbara. “Role of Music Therapy in Social Skills Development in Children with Moderate Intellectual Disability.” Database: Academic Search Premier 2000.
“Fun with Languages Responds to the Need for Music Education at Home and in the Classroom.” PR Newswire 11 November 2003.
“Music Education May Be “Left Behind” Under New Federal Requirements.” Press Release. American Music Conference 21 August 2003. 29 March 2005.
Nesoff, Elizabeth. “Sounds of Budget Ax Falling.” The Christian Science Monitor August 2003 edition.
Salvestrini, Valerie. “Americans Overwhelmingly want Music Education in Schools.” Press Release. American Music Conference 21 April 2003. 29 March 2005.
“Support Music” A Public Service of the Music Education Coalition. 1 April 2005. http://www.supportmusic.com
“VH1 Save the Music: Who We Are.” VH1 Save the Music. 29 March 2005. http://www.vh1.com/partners/save_the_music/who_we_are/index.html