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Thursday, May 13, 2010

How Important Are Music Programs In Public Schools?

            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?


  1. A good subject for debate, up to a point I agree what do music do for pupils when they leave school,
    Well I for one was musically minded from an early age and appreciated the music education I had, to be honest Geography and science held little interest to me, By the way I hated poetry also.
    But as one of my poems say"Where would we be without music?
    no matter be it pop, classical or jazz many people are making a living out of music, albiet songwriting, composing or entertaining. I am all for music education but then I may be biased.
    Probably one of the minority.
    Any way without music how are we going to survive on Fantasy Island.

    Have a good day Lee.

  2. As a teacher I firmly believe we have to nourish all parts of the students. Some students love math, others poetry, science, music, art, history... It's harder and harder to keep students interested and in school. We have to hook their interest, awaken their passions and joys. We can't do that if we limit their options.

    To make teaching music easier, I play a wide variety of CDs throughout the year (during art, tests & work sessions)- nothing more recent than Nat King Cole :). I play jazz, blues, classical, broadway...

    They look at me in September as if I'm crazy. By Christmas they're hooked. This year's class absolutely loves Phantom of the Opera and one of my Best of Jazz CDs. One year it was Tchaikovsky (sp??).

    It's fun to watch!

  3. If you're looking at it from that angle, it prepares them just as much as sports do for the real world. How many people will really make their living playing a sport?

    Sports are important because they teach dedication, team effort, and exercise habits. Well, so does music. I was in the band in school (and minored in trumpet in college) and we got all of that as well. Music teaches commitment. For some students, it might be the one place they excell.

    I say it's important!

  4. I agree with Alex. With music it is more about the core values that are learned than the actual application of the skills in real life.

    I played trombone in the jazz band in middle school and I wasn't very good at it. It took a lot of practice to even learn to read sheet music. I can't read music very well or even play any more, but the work ethic I developed from the experience has stayed with me (mostly).

    I think music like sports and art, is an important part of education.

    Just my opinion.

  5. As a writer, I think the arts, including music is very important. I agree that there is a shortage in funding at schools so perhaps that's not the place to further musical education. I think parents should look to enrolling their children in musical programs at home.


  6. Music is important for the values and discipline!

  7. I'm a high school teacher, and at my school, we have a fantastic choir program. Students thrive from the connections they make with the other students.

    Educators today need to prepare well-rounded students, especially as the top-notch universities become more competitive. Music programs and other electives help to achieve this.

  8. I think music is every bit as important as sports, literature and history. With music you do learn history as well since you learn about the time periods and composers.

    Learning to play an instrument teaches patience, disipline, team work. So in my opinion, you learn much more than just notes.

    Taking away music is taking away a piece of history and culture from education.


  9. It comes down to priorities. The three R's come first. A solid football program is necessary simply because its a cash machine for the school. Music is important, jut not priority. Parents can get involved with their kids lives more and enroll them in after school programs like music, art, and drama if the public schools cannot afford these programs.

    Stephen Tremp

    1. High School fine arts programs are some of the largest money generators. They are also one of the most visible programs a school has and can provide some of the most enriching experiences for students, school personnel and community members.

    2. I would agree where this is the case, but I don't believe what you've said is true throughout the country.


  10. Yvonne -- That's funny that you hated poetry when you were in school. Your education planted the seed that blossomed later in your life.

    Jemi-- you sound like a great teacher. Education should be about producing well rounded individuals.

    Alex -- I totally agree with you. Sports and music teach about social interaction and following instructions among other things. Important in one's later work life.

    Matthew -- You're right sports, music, and arts teaches self-discipline and helps young people to become more focused adults.

    Clarissa-- The problem is I don't think you can often count on the parents for proper educational guidance. Funding should be reassessed to direct more towards arts education.

    L. Diane-- You are exactly right.

    Amy -- the social interaction and spirit of working together to achieve common goals is important. Students who are well educated in the arts have an advantage over students who are not.

    Sig -- Amen to that! I've always felt there should be more relational integration between arts and the other scholastic endeavors. Music is a soundtrack for history and music is applied mathematics and science.

    Stephen T. -- As I stated above I don't think you can rely on parents to always provide this type of education, especially for the students who need it most. Maybe some priorities should be reassessed and things that don't seem to be a priority should be re-examined to see if they should be prioritized. Why is football a cash cow for schools and music is not? Is it something to do with misdirected societal thinking? Mozart, Mendelssohn, Schubert, and others were composing amazing musical works when they were kids and there weren't any organized sports programs in schools at the time or professional sports for that matter. School Districts need to take a closer look to how money is being spent and see what kinds of private subsidies can be obtained.

  11. Music VERY young, actually develops the part of the brain that will be needed for mathematics--it is spacial, proportional thinking--particularly the classical discipline of it.

    I also think (and I think this for sports as well as music) that by HIGH SCHOOL many less academically oriented kids might tune out if they didn't have a loved activity to pull them back in.

    And then finally--I echo the 'discipline' piece. Most homework or project, kids do exactly their assignment and no more. Music is something where they can work harder and harder and keep improving... move to harder pieces, gain higher (chairs/solos... depends type)

    Finally, if NOT in the public schools, then we expand the divide on who gets the advantages of it and who doesn't. It think it would be a shame to have yet another domain in which the rich kids from the 'driven' families were the only ones who got these.

    (great topic, Lee!)

  12. Kids learn in so many different ways. Music programs help children who learn in a different way express themselves in school. I know in school that chorus and art programs help me plug in to English better. Really sometimes they were the only reason i had to go to school. if Music programs help kids stay in school I say definately let them stick around.

    In my opinion the music and art programs are just as important to education as English and math.

    Imagine if only the rich has access to culture. That would be a great tragedy. It would be a world in which the unwashed masses walked around without hope or beauty while the rich sat up in their towers listening to Mozart and Beethoven and looking at brilliant and beautiful works of art while sneering at the ignorance of the poor and average being.

  13. Hart-- Every point well taken. You point out the big disadvantage of removing cultural education from the public domain and into the hands of individuals. Those who have had the advantage of advanced cultural upbringing are also usually the ones who can most afford to pass it on to their own children.

    Marjorie --You have elaborated on the points that Hart makes previously and you are so right in what you say. Music, arts, and literature are treasures that should be shared with all classes. The world and its culture would be a far better place if young minds were elevated.
    I think this has to come through public schools and other publicly available programs.

  14. I don't think the school system has any responsibility to children suppossedly intrusted to them other than the instruction in the basics. It is not the shcools job to shape or mold a child. That is suppose to be the parents job. Since parents gave up their responsibiilty and traded their children for the American Dream, it has been easy for the schools to invade and even replace parental responsibility.

    Math, English, Science, History and such is their responsibility. Music, art, sports or physical ed, sex ed, politics, belong to mom and dad.

    But the argument is parents are trained, they don't have the background, they don't have the skills or the money or the time.

    So, your answer is to turn our kids over to traine professionals, typically trained in values opposite our own?

    This is what the church has done. Teaching children spiritual things used to be the responsibility of the parents. Families learned and worshipped together.

    But, lo and behold, trained professionals came along. Parents no longer had to take responsibility for the spiritual training of their childre - now we have VBS, AWANA, Youth Group, etc. How has that worked?

    If cuts in education are needed they should start in the extraneous area of adminstration, school unions, NEA, etc.

    After that has been restored to proper balance, and cuts are still needed, yes cut sports, cut music, cut arts - for God's sake teach our kids so they are no longer lagging behind even third world countries in math, history, geography, science, etc.

    Kids can put on a condom, find the G-spot, text while doing 8 other things, operate ipads, iphones, droids, video games, but can't name the attorney general or where Bosnia is located.

    We challenge our kids to forget anything meaning go for acting, sports, or music and the money.

    Well, money is god. How's that workking?

    If you don't approve this and delete I would undertand it and appreciate it.

  15. A very good question. I think I would answer it by asking another question: what exactly does algebra prepare you for? Or biology? Trigonometry? Or history?

    What does history have to do with running a business or becoming a scientist? Or how many of us use algebra in our personal or business lives?

    Perhaps the answer to those questions would help answer the question about music.

  16. Gregg-- It wouldn't be that great of a debate if I deleted opposing views. The only time I would ever delete anything is if it were verbally offensive or incendiary or if it were something very personal, which is probably a case for me to go back to having comment moderation.
    I agree with many of your points, but I do think musical study from a historical and sociological perspective is important to education. And study that integrates art into practical study can be very useful.
    Who is the Attorney General? I've forgotten-- I'm really bad with names.

    Richard-- I agree-- you bring up a very good point. On the surface most of the things that are taught in schools don't seem to have any practical application to most of our lives, but if you really think about it a lot of it does. A well rounded education helps make us more complete as humans and a step up from just being animals. And learning all that stuff might stave off Alzheimers. Who knows?

  17. What does the United States Constitution say about this question?


    The U.S. Constitution is "the supreme law of the land", so I think that in answering a question like this, the place to begin is examining what the Constitution has to say on it.

    Awww, but therein lies the problem, doesn't it? Because Americans DON'T KNOW and DON'T CARE TO KNOW what "the supreme law of the land" has to say. Americans would prefer to just "make it up as they go along" according to how it "feels". And to borrow a line from Gregg [above]: "How's that working?"

    ~ Stephen
    "As a dog returns to his own vomit,
    so a fool repeats his folly."
    ~ Proverbs 26:11

  18. StMc -- I'm not a constitutional expert such as you, but I think public education is primarily under the jurisdiction of state and local law. I don't know that the federal government should be really having too much of a say and I don't know that the constitution has much to say about public education. But don't leave us hanging. What is your interpretation and how do you think an education in humanities should be dealt with in public schools?

  19. I find, sports, arts and music to be coping mechanisms. There are studies done, proven that it helps develop path ways in the brain. I know my daughter was taught rhythmic patterns in math, with a musical type tone. It helped re enforce math skills! Music, the arts and Math helps those with autistic problems; most are actually gifted in one of these studies.

    I also believe those who love music and the arts find a way to cope. High school aged kids have a lot of issues with peer pressure
    and/or depression. This is a coping tool, that enables them to
    find a way to express themselves.
    If it wasn't for the arts, I truly
    believe there would be more teenage
    suicide. There are a lot of stories of how art has saved many. check out Readers Stories and Art Saves is a coping tool. If we aren't exposed to it in school, then when? Art and music lessons are expensive, most of our economy does not have the money to afford this luxury! Maybe the exposure you had in middle/high school, saved your soul and allowed you a pathway to express yourself. This may not of been available to you in your formative years, due to background, location, economics and
    bottom line, your place in society(your parents wallet/pocketbook).

  20. You have so many well written comments here that I'm going to keep mine short and sweet. My daughter recently got an A on a math test due to something she learned in music. Music has benefits in addition to producing well rounded individuals.

  21. Great argument and I know you put this out there for this format!
    I don't think you truly shared your
    opinion! You threw this at us, to see how we would react, for or against! YOU sure know how to get the ball rolling! ;-D

  22. Very interesting argument but I happen to strongly disagree with you. I'm posting a response post on my blog.

  23. Also I hope you realize that without classical music the music that you LOVE today would not be possible because classical was where it all started and its awesome.

  24. Ellie -- I agree with you. We all need some escape. Music can connect us to a much higher power and a higher plain of existing. Music reflects everything else in life.

    Liza -- I beleve in what you say and agree with what you say.

    Ellie -- Thank you for recognizing this. Thursday is Debate Day on Tossing It Out and I wouldn't want to present something that everyone agrees with.

    Makailyn-- I am so glad you disagreed. I hope everyone goes to Makailyn's blog and checks out her wonderful argument and my reply to that argument.

  25. Stopping by from BON.

    At my school we had one compulsory music subject in the first two years, and from there on out they were electives, or if you were really keen, you could get involved in the production for the year.

    At primary school I think we had one lesson a week most of the way through, but I have no problem with that. Kids that age are too stupid to know what they like.

  26. Music is important.... art is important, science is important.... The more exposed, hopefully the more multi-faceted and well-rounded we become...

    Interesting posting.

  27. I see both sides. My daughter took music in school and now never uses it but the experience of being part of a band and joining with others in a like passion helped form her into who she is today. I never partook in any music programs but wish I had. Music and sports have always been part of our schools and I'd hate to see them gone.

  28. CritC- I left you a note on your site. Sorry my Friday post didn't go up at the time it was supposed to-- it's there now. thanks for stopping by.

    ScoMan-- Thank you for stopping in. My BON post has now gone up- I had the time setting wrong--You might be underestimating little kids-- they don't know what's good until they are taught.

    Matthew-- I am in agreement with you

    Terri-- I'm with you-- I'd hate to see them gone as well.

  29. rLEE-b ~
    You are correct, sir!
    The U.S. Constitution does not permit the Federal Government to be involved in the education of our nation's children. According to "the supreme law of the land", our national education system is "un-Constitutional", which is just another way of saying "illegal".

    Therefore, it seemed to me that asking whether or not music education should be taught in our public schools was a moot point. The real question is: Should there be public schools?

    As Congressman Ron Paul states on page 162 of his excellent little book "The Revolution: A Manifesto":

    "It is only our intellectual inertia and lack of imagination that make us think these departments necessary in the first place. A federal Department of Education, for example, is an insult to the American people, who are more than capable of running their own schools without being looted to support a national education bureaucracy. We would get by just fine without it, as indeed Americans did for most to the twentieth century, a period when - by just a coincidence? - the population was far better educated than it is now, In fact, given the Department of Education's sorry record, if I truly opposed learning and knowledge I would propose tripling its budget."

    The bestselling author Thomas Woods has addressed this same issue in a way that I find pithy, humorous, and spot on:

    “Constitution Day: Observed on September 17th, is the day on which federally funded American educational institutions - themselves unconstitutional - are unconstitutionally required to teach about the Constitution.”

    Yak Later, Brother...
    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" McD-Fens

  30. I certainly don't think the federal government should have any say in school curriculum including banning the Bible.

    I was blessed in my elementary years with either a really good school district, extraordinary teachers, or both. I feel like I received a really well-rounded education which inspired me to seek out more study on my own.

    We could save taxpayers huge amounts of money, not to mention vastly increase unemployment rolls, by getting rid of all public education and allowing the television and other entertainment media to expand on their current programs to educate all of us Americans. Imagine the explosion of intelligence!

  31. I did a post a while back on the benefits of music education in our schools. Statistically, students who participate in music score higher on standardized tests (and we all know that this is the real goal of an education - tongue planted firmly in cheek) Music definitely increases math abilities. I am biased, my daughter will be graduating tomorrow with a degree in music education. The fine arts program in our school district is exceptional, and participating in band gave her focus, taught her discipline and teamwork and provided her with a goal to pursue after high school. My husband and I could not possibly have given her the music education she received. I would hate to see music and the arts become the bastion of the wealthy. Everyone deserves the opportunity to be exposed to the arts. Kathy

  32. Kathy -- I agree with you. I actually believe a education in the arts is equal to all of the other academic pursuits if not a tad superior. A world without good music frightens me and sometimes I feel we are headed in that direction because the newer generations have not gotten enough proper training in the arts.

  33. rLEE-b(rother) ~

    --> We could save taxpayers huge amounts of money, not to mention vastly increase unemployment rolls, by getting rid of all public education and...(etc.)

    Do I detect a trace of sarcasm?
    Actually, if federally-funded public education was banned in accordance with the U.S. Constitution, few if any of the currently employed teachers would remain unemployed for long. A new void in education - now restricted solely to more efficient private or state-sanctioned educational institutions - would quickly be filled by out-of-work teachers, now freed from the federal education bureaucracy.

    If you have never read it before, I highly recommend that you check out Henry Hazlitt's book 'Economics In One Lesson'. It explains how decreased taxation in conjunction with a trimming of federal intrusion never results in increased unemployment or stagnation in the economic sector. It's the government bureaucrats who convince us that we need them or else the economy will be ruined. In truth, it is they (and the private Federal Reserve) who always represent the biggest drain and drag on the nation's economy.

    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" McD-Fens

  34. Music should be imperative to the contemporary educational system. Unfortunately, music and art often are the first courses deleted from a school budget - heaven forbid they remove competitive sports.

    Plato put it much better than I ever could when he said:

    "Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything."

    He also said: "Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue."

  35. StMcC-- Me? Sarcastic? How could you say such a thing?
    Actually I agree that if federal funding were taken that few teachers would be unemployed. I think the federal Dept of Education has mainly bureaucratic types on the payroll. No sad goodbyes there and maybe there could be a resurgence in good quality teaching again.
    I'll read the book while I'm on the island-- oh, you probably think I'm being sarcastic again.

    Paula--Love the quotes and I agree with what you say. That situation in L.A. currently is what inspired my debate question. Music and arts are among the first programs to be considered when cutting the budget.

  36. "Actually, if federally-funded public education was banned in accordance with the U.S. Constitution"

    The Constitution never explicitly bans public education. It simply never describes a system by which the federal government can establish a public education. Nowhere does it say that the state governments have no authority to educate the children - and in fact it is widely considered among most historians to be one of the states' primary jobs to educate the next generation.

    Lack of an education - as is encouraged by not mandating an education with specific guidelines and goals - leads to people, unfortunately like you, who do not care for intellectual honesty nor for the benefit of the people of the United States. Lack of an education, as you seem to have, promotes selfishness (as evidenced by your posts) and would ultimately degrade this country even further. I'm ashamed that somebody would ever suggest such a thing.

  37. "Like religion, music is something that should be taught by parents at home and not be part of the public education forum."

    I think you have a misconception as to why religion is a privately taught thing, and music education is not. You see, in music, there is obviously disagreement on taste and interpretation, but as a whole the method by which one PLAYS an instrument is fairly well agreed upon. This is not so for religion. As such, religion stays at home. The government stays out of religious education because the government is reflective of the people's desires, and since the people cannot come to agreement on religious principles, it would be ridiculous to attempt to establish some fair system by which religion could be taught in schools.

    Music education, however, is not so subjective. Unless you have some sort of dedicated music appreciation class - which I have never experienced, though I'm sure they do exist - most music classes focus around the teaching of PLAYING an instrument, which is entirely different than listening to music, and which aids in the development of many young childrens' minds and their social skills.

    The act of playing music is one which involves the use of the vast majority of the brain. It is rare to find somebody who need not focus intently upon their work to play good music. I take it from your post that you may not have actually taken a music class in high school. I'll be honest, your comment about music classes being a 'goof-off' class is more or less true at the elementary (K-5) level. At my school district, however, that changes at around Grade 6. However, it is also at Grade 6 that most musical education becomes optional - which is what leads me to believe that you may have opted out.

    What you'll find when you look at a high school music program - or even the music programs of quality junior high schools - is NOT a 'goof-off' class. As much time and dedication is put into focusing the childrens' minds on a goal and accomplishing that goal as time is spent learning mathematical principles, expounding upon scientific theories, or analyzing historical events. Playing and appreciating music, to put it simply, is an act of thinking. An ultimately, thought and the development of thought is the purpose of public education. I'm not even going to delve into the massive amount of evidence which supports the idea that music education is vital to a developing childs' brain. There's plenty of it and if you were interested in finding anything out about it and invested enough in your intellectual honesty to do research before you posted, you would have done so already.

    With that, I'll just say this...

    "Why should we taxpayers throw away money to perpetuate programs that students don't care about?"

    First, if this is your argument, you may as well cancel school. Period.

    "Why would people want to bother with classical music when we have really good entertaining music like rap, hip-hop, and Lady GaGa."

    Second, this is why we need music education.

  38. Jacob -- Thank you so much for your debate response. I agree with many of the points that you make and I thank you for participating in my Debate Thursday. Since my goal is to stimulate a response I will often take a side that I feel will be unpopular with many of my readers. In other words I try to push some buttons so as to get a debate going.

    Your response concerning the constitutional aspects of the argument is directed to one of the respondents to the debate and not to my original debate arguments.

    On the second response you made here are my disagreement with what you say:
    Actually I do think that study of the Bible should be part of the public school curriculum as a study of the book itself and not to proselytize any religion and I think comparative studies of religions would be appropriate, with the bias going toward Judeo-Christian religions.
    Music is very subjective. Even the playing can be subjective-- consider classical, jazz, and rock styles-- there can be stylistically different ways of playing that draw scorn from other players where as there can be integration of opinions of approaches to techniques as well.
    There is a lot of subjectivity to music period.

    My opinion also, and I feel this is fact more than opinion, is that music is math-- the studies of both can be integrated. J.S. Bach is one of the greatest mathematicians who ever lived and his formulas resulted in great music.

    Rap and hip-hop mostly suck, Lady GaGa is kind of entertaining, but classical musical trumps it all.

    A rich and thorough study in music should be part of the school curriculum from K thru 12.

    Please note: I was engaging in forensic debate for the sake of creating an exchange of ideas, I did it, and I enjoyed. Please come back for future debates. This coming Thursday I will be posing another topic related to music.

  39. Education in the arts is important for cultural development. Not only does it expose students to the richness and diversity of their own culture, but music is a fantastic way to expose them to others as well. I belong to a music website where all the people come together to enjoy soundtracks, and a ton of them live halfway around the world. Yet we all have this in common, and we have become friends. We don't need anything more to divide us; it's a global community. Keep art and music education. Support it and fight for it.

    Disclaimer: I don't have any children but if I did, they WOULD have this. I would see to it. If the school couldn't provide it, I would. It's too important.

  40. Elizabeth -- amen to what you have said -- I agree with you. And thank you for your continuation of the topic on your post Music of the Hemispheres

  41. first off let me state that you obviously have no idea what the hell you are talking about. you have completely forgotten the countless research that has shown that education in the arts has a direct link to higher math, reading and comprehension skills. and just because you cant see how music can help us function in the real world doesn't mean it doesn't. music requires you to be able to both stay focused on your own and in a cohesive ensemble. it also teaches you discipline and how to work in a group, both are abilities that ALL companies are looking for in an employee. secondly you haven't done your research into pop artists; for you to use lady gaga as a reference to music that has nothing to do with classical music is bull shit.... in fact any example of pop music is bull shit because there wouldn't be any pop music with out Beethoven, Motzart or Bach.... hell lady gaga attended the tisch school of the arts at NYU. i am currently in my fourth year at Washington State University and finishing my bachelors degree in music performance and everything that you have posted made me sick to my stomach that a bone head like yourself cant see why music is important to a childs development.

  42. Anonymous--I was taken by surprise to see your comment on this old post of mine, but I am very happy you stopped by to read and comment and I hope you will see my reply.

    You have misinterpreted my intent in doing this post and apparently did not read any of my responses in the comment section above. I was offering a debate format for this topic and as I will often do in order to stimulate the response to the debate and create a spirit of controversy, I took the opposite side of what I believe and what I thought most of my readers would believe. I didn't want to make anybody sick to their stomach; only stimulate discussion, which I did.

    In reality, I agree with your stated point of view about music and music education in schools. I believe that music should be a fundamental part of education and should be integrated into teaching things like math, science,language arts, and all other topics. Music is everywhere and music is the heartbeat of life and the lifeblood of our spirit and mind.

    I couldn't do without music in my life. If I couldn't hear it around me, I'd still hear it in my head. I was fortunate to have an education that often included music as part of the curriculum. I enjoy many styles of music, but if I could only have one it would be what is typically referred to as classical. Of course, within that I would want to include the entire gamut of subgenres. But yes!--give me Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. But don't forget Schubert, Vivaldi, Brahms, Mahler, Bruckner, Debussy, and on and on and on. Such great music that never gets old for me!

    Hope you are less chilled and don't think of me as such a musical bonehead anymore. Check out some of my other music posts and you will see more of where I'm coming from. I think I posted about music for most of the month of June.

    By the way, I'm curious as to how you located this particular post?

    Hope to hear from you again!


  43. Idiot...

    Is he serious?? Is advanced math really needed in a food preparation career? No? Might as well toss it out... What? Psychics isn't needed for most non science careers? Well let's abolish it from schools and let those who want to study physics take private lessons!!
    FYI on average the smallest amount of a school's budget goes to music education and the other performing arts. So little in fact that , other than the teachers salaries, often times a music departments budget is consisted solely on what they make at concerts in ways of revenue.
    You say that too much is being spent on the arts?? Go and actually research on how schools are allotted money,how unions and other organization cripple them into spending ridiculous amounts of money, and how public schools spend the money they have remaining.

    After that... look into the average that a school spends on sports, getting a new track every year, buying uniforms for all the participants, paying for all the trips, etc. (Nothing against sports, but it is true :) )

    And then look up all the studies that show music education has drastically improved cognitive development in students.

    After all that, reread through your blog... you might have a different perspective.

  44. Unknown --Thank you for stopping by to comment. I hope you see my reply.
    It's always a surprise when someone comments on such an old post.
    I agree with just about everything you say. I would suggest that you go back and reread my blog post and then read the reply I gave right about where your comment appears. My explanation is right there and I don't want to repeat it when you can just scroll up a little bit and see it.

    Thanks for your passionate comment.


  45. E & E Services--Thank you for this comment. I'm always pleasantly surprised when an older post continues to garner comments.

    I think I'm in basic agreement with what you say.

    I began playing violin in the 3rd grade. It was 1959 and I was living in San Diego where they had a very good school music program with a school orchestra. For the next 4 years I played and excelled in playing.

    Then we moved to Northern Indiana when I was entering junior high. No orchestra, no violins in the marching band. I still took lessons, but with little peer interaction in music I lost interest. No music programs after that and I didn't get back into music until I returned to college, but mostly only as a music fan.

    My theory is that music is as important as math since music is a form of math. Kids should have an ongoing regimen of music appreciation and understanding throughout their school years. Learning to play an instrument should be an encouraged elective.

    Like you say, without adequate and proper funding a music program in public schools will be less than successful. We are raising a generation with a lack of culture.


  46. As I read through the topic of "Is music education in public schools important?" I feel responsible to add to this conversation.

    "At the beginning of this school year, a 3rd grader said to me "I wanna play Tuba". My eyes got big as my heart began to smile once more."

    In reality, however, I know that the probably of him receiving the proper instruction at this school had little promise. This scenario occurs throughout our country in schools who seek to embed Music Pedagogy in the school curriculum. Many schools have asked parents to provide musical instruments along with private lessons. This is a good start but falls short of providing the needs of a Music Program. There are many other factors that go over-looked. One important factor is protocol of scheduling and enrollment. In a school, students should have the freedom to choose what electives they are most interested in. They should not be forced to take Music or Art. We are waisting precious hours of instructional time on behavior modifications for students who are not interested in the subject. Students who are interested and want to be a part of these electives should have that freedom. Moreover, students who are forced into these classes already know that they may not have to pass Music courses to graduate. If music is to be considered in a school curriculum, it must have the respect as any other discipline. Students should never have low expectations about anything of study. We're sending the wrong message.

    Furthermore, I believe that schools have a responsibility to provide resources that aid in the development of the performing arts and vocational programs. These programs are essential to the overall development of our youngster -- they find plenty of funding for athletic programs.

    Districts and educational leaders have turned their backs on the traditional methods of music education for a more suitable and in-expensive alternative "Music Appreciation". In addition, our leaders have failed to implement the necessary components that music education requires:

    Facilities - Many music teachers are restricted to a cart for music instruction.

    Funding - Music instruments are expensive but are essential to music instruction. Investing in adequate tools are needed, not toys.

  47. Music is the most important thing in my life as a middle schooler, and saying that you disapprove of music classes in school is outrageous, and frankly you are wrong.

  48. I've been teaching music in the public school system for over twenty years, so it's going to shock you when I say: music education in the public schools is a waste of time and money.

    That's not to say that it HAS to be a waste; it COULD be something very valuable and relevant if music educators embraced what is culturally relevant TODAY, and what will be relevant and meaningful to students in the world in which they live. Of all arts education, music is the one that consistently refuses to embrace modernity. Back when jazz was the popular music in the U.S.,it was all but forbidden in educational settings; now that it is sixty years past its prime, it is a featured ensemble in schools. The golden age of guitarists was during the late sixties and seventies, but the inclusion of programs that embraced that trend was considered "bourgeois". Now guitar is a part of many programs, but even when it is, it is taught by people who were classically trained on symphonic instruments who play little, if any, guitar, and much of the instruction is in the manner of classical playing (note reading, rest stroke, etc) rather than music and technique that students would find useful today. The school ensemble is based on the model of the Sousa band of the late 1800's--a model that has long dated itself. Who actually even listens to wind band music other than the people who teach it, the kids who play it, and their parents when the attend concerts?

    There is certainly nothing wrong with teaching the classics, but in the case of music, they are being taught in lieu of relevant contemporary trends. Can you imagine Lit classes that doesn't include a Toni Morrison novel or an art class that restricts the use of line in portraiture to the style of the 1700's (hello, George Washington!)

    And in terms of creativity in school arts courses...the writers are writing short stories and poetry; the artists are doing modern sculpture and painting; the musicians are marching in a marching band at the football game. True, there may be budding songwriters in the schools who have their own bands, etc; but my experience indicates that THOSE musicians are not typically ones involved in the school band, chorus, or orchestra, and even if they are, their creative work is occurring outside the school and music room doors.

    As far as the discipline, etc: yes, learning to read music or play an oboe does require discipline, and may improve it. So does martial arts, archery, tennis, juggling, performing magic tricks, and riding a unicycle. Research a little further into all these tests that claim the music improves all sorts of stuff. In most cases they involve a)private piano lessons, and b)no consideration for the background of the students who actually excel. No public school I ever heard of provides private keyboard instruction to children; and there is a considerable difference between correlation and causation.

    So yes, as it stands, I would say public school music is a waste of money. It wouldn't be if it was current and relevant.


    Bachelor of Music, Music Theory/Composition
    Master of Music, Jazz Performance

    25+ years experience as:
    rock guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist
    jazz trumpeter in jazz bands/quintets
    classical trumpeter in orchestras, brass quintets
    public school and private teacher

  49. ADG -- I am in agreement with what you say here and this was partly what I was trying to convey in a roundabout sort of way. I would never want to see schools abandon the classics since those works are the apex of the creation of man. I find much modern music to be trite, cacophonous, and often offensive--much like the generation of my parents probably found mine. We should recognize and evaluate newer music trends but not at the expense of what came before. But yes, you make a good point.


  50. I say it's very important.
    But then I'm probably biased because I'm a music educator. However, I'm also a language educator.
    And there ARE similarities between music and language.
    I'm going off at a tangent here... but there's been an ongoing debate (over 200 years) about the evolution of the two... did they evolve one after the other, and if so, which came first?
    But what is also really really fascinating, is that music occupies more area of the human brain than language does - and I'm wondering how and why did it evolve in that way... seems like we are, by design, a musical species.
    I believe that music IS the only universal language... it brings people together in a special way... it doesn't depend on who you are or where you come from... music unites!
    So wouldn't you say that it's important? I think the problem is the relevancy of the school music programmes (as mentioned by commenters above)
    That's just my 2 cents...
    (By the way, I popped over from your IWSG facebook post)
    This is a GREAT post!

  51. Michelle -- Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment on this post. I agree about similarity of music and language. Or at least music is an extension of language. I'm fascinated by the cultural difference in music and how each style reflects the corresponding language. The study of ethnomusicology and cultural symbiosis with music should be incorporated into school programs with just as much relevance as history, language, and social studies. Music says a lot about a people and the era in which they live.


  52. The original point of music education in America was to teach the singing of hymns.


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