Many school districts across the country are facing financial hardship. School boards are faced with difficult decisions of what programs to cut and how to stretch the tax dollars to accommodate tight budgets. Increasing class sizes, pay cuts, and less working days take a toll on teacher salaries as they receive more pressure to improve students' performance. Among the programs hit hardest by budgetary cuts are those that are related to music education.
Is music education in public schools important?
When I was a child attending elementary school in San Diego I can recall having a fairly vibrant musical education program. The school had an orchestra, where students who were interested would receive basic music instruction and would participate in school concerts. Certain times of the classroom day were set aside for music education that included singing and listening to classical music while learning about it. The students were afforded an education in fine arts and music appreciation.
But the real question might be whether or not this is really the responsibility of public education. Does music really prepare students for the world of higher education and eventual careers? Most jobs have nothing to do with what we know about classical music or whether we can sing a simple song. I think most of us know that Choir and Band were goof off classes that were fun, but had no practical value in most of the futures of those who took these classes. Music classes prepare very few of us for anything in the real world.
Education dollars would be far better spent teaching students to write and speak correctly, to understand math, to pursue scientific study, or to gain a fundamental knowledge about business. Very few students learn to appreciate good music from school music programs. When they're not at school they are listening to pop schlock garbage and classical music is not something that is in their radar. Why should we taxpayers throw away money to perpetuate programs that students don't care about?
There is already too much public money subsidizing arts and we shouldn't be wasting it on arts education as well. Most people don't even like classical--it is boring and pretentious. Why would people want to bother with classical music when we have really good entertaining music like rap, hip-hop, and Lady GaGa. Like religion, music is something that should be taught by parents at home and not be part of the public education forum.
What do you think? Does music education in public school have any real value? How could old music really have any usefulness in today's world? Did you grow up with a music education and, if so, was it of any real value to you?
By the way, I have presented the above argument for debate purposes. Some people may agree with this argument, while I may have taken it to an extreme in the eyes of others. There are many other sides that can be taken pro and con or even neutral to music education in schools. What is your opinion?