Music Education Curriculum In Public Schools

Budget cuts in schools across the country have slashed music education curriculum from public schools. Researchers found music adds in children's mental development.

Across America schools are cutting their budgets and one of the programs being left out is music. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are the important subjects according to many taxpayers. They don't see the value in music education even though researchers have found a correlation between music and development of children's mental abilities.

Studies prove that listening to music at a young age helps a child do better in math and science. Music has a powerful and positive influence on the brain. Sharon Begley wrote about this in the July 24 issues of Science and Technology. Music promotes connective ability. It isn't just a means of recreation. It increases brainpower.

What does music teach other than an appreciation for rhythm? I'm speaking of classical music here, not rock and roll. Measurement, proportion, and pattern perception are some of the positive affects of music education. I'm a former teacher, mother, and piano player so I am biased in favor of music education. It gives me great pleasure when my son visits and we play our keyboards together. And when I go to his house he has tambourines, drums, and other percussion instruments.

When I taught kindergarten music was always an activity that all the children enjoyed participating in. As a group activity it is great. Children pay close attention to the words of songs and love to join in. This helps increase their ability to listen and learn. Musical instruments add to the pleasure while teaching children a sense of rythm.

Experts such like Jeanne Bamberge, a MIT professor have done studies to prove the positive affect of music on children's learning abilities. She is the designer of programs for the Graham and Parks School in Cambridge and she supports the integration of music into the school system.

There is a correlation between early language skills and music. Certainly we all have observed how young children love music. They dance naturally, and hum or sing along. In preschool and kindergarten, children quickly learn the words to the songs. They sing along, clap in time to the music and thoroughly enjoy this portion of this day. They don't realize they are learning. Martin Gardiner at the Center for the Study of Human Development at Brown University reported a connection between early language skills and musical ability.

Children as young as three can remember words to songs they've heard repeated. This is a great contribution to their ability to retain information. It expands their memories. There is so much more music adds to children's lives. What are they? According to the experts in education musical studies help children to develop independent work habits. Music is so important that it is now being promoted even for babies. There is a series of music CDs called BABY GENUISES for different age groups from birth through kindergarten.

Researchers have found that when musical education is included in schools, scores in math, science and language arts increase. Another study on children from disadvantaged families found the children improved their test scores when given musical education.

With all the data we now have it is a wonder that more public school administrators and parents don't fight for music education. Yes, it costs money. To have an effective program requires a skilled instructor who not only has studied music but also is adept at playing an instrument. Music appreciation is only one component of musical education. Teaching children to not only enjoy music, but also play music is important.

Public schools in my areas require parents to pay hundreds of dollars if they want their children to play an instrument. This puts low-income families at severe disadvantages. Music education becomes a program for the elite. All children need access to music education. It is imperative for schools to invest in music equipment that children can use without additional cost. Not every child will want to play the piano or violin, but guitars, flutes, drums, cymbals and other percussion instruments offer a viable alternative.

One workshop I attended was held at a community college. The instructor played several bars of classical music. He explained the notes were a mathematical progression. Learning to play any instrument required that part of the brain utilized by science and math. Even at a college level, he said music appreciation classes, and instrument instruction would increase student's ability to learn.

What can we do? Speak up at school board meetings. If parents, teachers, and school boards put their minds together they can come up with creative solutions to budget problems. Cooperation between music stores and schools is one avenue. A campaign for donated musical instruments is another. One school where I taught was faced with the same kind of budget cuts. Instead of slashing the music program, they offered it one day a week. It was held in the auditorium to several classes at once. For some children this is their only exposure to classical music.

It is up to us as concerned citizens to insist on music education. Our children's minds are at stake.

For more information on the importance of music education in schools and solutions to budget problems, I recommend the following book: CHAMPIONS OF CHANGE. 1999. Published by the The Arts Education Partnership and the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Your local library will be able to obtain a copy for you.

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