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Music Programs Should Not Be Cut From Schools

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Music Programs Should Not Be Cut From Schools
Elementary schools and high schools across the U.S. have lately suffered from financial strain. Because of this, budget cuts have to be made and music programs often suffer before sports and academics. Although some people believe that music is not a key component in preparing for employment and higher education, yet several others express otherwise, who say music has been shown to stimulate other parts of a student’s mind that can help them excel. Statistics have shown that the correlation between music class and other academia is not only positive for students, but also can improve future scholastic abilities, and thus should not be cut from schools. Through the evaluation of various sources it becomes clear that students will suffer consequences such as losing the opportunity to learn how to play an instrument, a tool that can be used to boost grades in classes and improve every-day reasoning. Learning how to play an instrument is beneficial not only academically but also emotionally, like making students feel happy and relaxed. University of California scientists has discovered music instruction improves a child’s spatial reasoning, an intelligence that helps in the classroom and in everyday life. Several other researches show that musical study develops critical thinking and self-discipline, as well as cognitive development, basic math, and reading abilities at an early age.

In addition to these skills, students who are involved in a music program have a higher self-esteem, higher SAT scores, a greater sense of teamwork, better school attendance, and are more attentive. Charles Wright comments, “Students involved with music are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college, receive more awards, and are less likely to become involved with gangs and substance abuse” (Taylor). This is because music gives children something they enjoy to spend their free time on. This acts an escape from doing drugs and hanging out with gang members. To demonstrate that music education improves test grades, here is a conclusion of a few statistics: “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 verbal and 44 points higher on the math, than did students with no arts participation” (Houck). As well as better grades, students who participate in a band or orchestra have reported the lowest lifetime and current use of substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs.

Some still may ask exactly how music fits into a regular curriculum. A few simple points a musician may answer with are; Sheet music is a chart: it has different frequencies, intensity, volume changes, melody, and harmony. It is mathematical: time signatures are a subdivision of time, they divide time into fractions. Also, speeds are counted as beats per second. It is physical education: training of posture, fingers, hands, arms, lips, cheeks, and most importantly, ears. It is foreign language: musical terms are in Latin. Practicing music takes years to accomplish along with hard studying and a lot of discipline. It teaches players to work together and collaborate, a skill that is not easily taught in schools. All of these skills are useful inside the classroom as well as in the real world. That’s what school is about, right? — Giving young children and teenagers practical tools to think on their own. Music is a great apparatus to train the brain for higher forms of thinking. ] Moved from other section of paper.

Two problems in schools often prevent students from being able to take music classes. In “Against Cutting Art and Music Programs in Schools” by Olivia Houck, she raises a discussion about the dangers facing students nationally as fifty percent of kids are losing access to this part of their education. When George Bush issued the “No Child Left Behind” Act in 2001, requirements for reading and math testing were forced to be focused upon. So schools do not fall behind on these requirements, some states such as Vermont and California are compelled to spend up to triple the amount of time on reading and math subjects. The requirements are constantly being raised by other top schools, making it difficult for lower-preforming schools to compete. According to a survey done by the Center on Education Policy, 71 percent of the nation’s 15,000 school districts have severely reduced teaching history, music, foreign language, and other subjects to increase study on reading and math (Dillon). “Some experts warn that by reducing the academic menu to steak and potatoes, schools risk giving bored teenagers the message that school means repetition and drilling” (Dillon). Thomas Sobol, an education professor at Columbia Teachers College and a former New York State education commissioner said, “Only two subjects? What a sadness. That’s like a violin student who’s only permitted to play scales, nothing else, day after day, scales, scales, scales. They’d lose their zest for music” (Dillon).

In high school, learning strictly two subjects could negatively affect students. It is important to incorporate a well-rounded academic program to properly prepare a student for the “real world”. Each subject should be touched on in order to benefit the various futures every individual will have. Also, a student could become easily apathetic about school with constant repetitive work and may be repelled from continuing higher education.

Many students have issues focusing for long periods of time, as well as a large population of children with ADD and ADHD; a student that sits in only a couple classrooms for hours at a time during the school day could become frustrating and cause problems with being able to focus.

A second issue preventing students from taking music classes involves funding. Several other schools nationwide are also struggling to keep music and art programs alive in result of a lack of financial support for music education. In a tight money situation, teachers have to be cut and compromises need to be made. Unfortunately, music programs are always on the cutting block and regularly the first to be cut, costing music teacher’s jobs and thousands of dollars in music equipment to collect dust. The real issue concerns the detrimental loss the students will face if music is slashed from their schedule. The extraordinary imagination that music can spark in a young child’s mind will be lost and some future opportunities disintegrate.

In western Massachusetts, Palmer’s Converse Middle School may not have an existing band in future years and music classes in Amherst will be cut in half. Although the community strongly supports the arts in Amherst, the lack of funding and limited resources for these classes will force the school board to reach a compromise that may be a disadvantage to the students. In this settlement, the strings program will begin in fourth grade rather than third and instrumental music will start in fifth grade instead of fourth (DeForge). This may seem reasonable, but trimming and cutting fine arts classes even only by one year and restoring them the following year is harmful to students. Missing a whole year of opportunity to start out learning music can greatly hinder the teaching sequence of music classes that build on each other each year. Some worry that skipping a year of teaching students music can jeopardize the senior program. As said by Adrian Chamberlain of the Times Colonist in Victoria, B.C.,“Learning to play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star may be OK if you’re in Grade 5. But it sure ain’t cool if you’re a teenager. The elementary strings worked as a “feeder” for the secondary program, attracting pupils at a tender age when they’re open to new ideas”. 12-year-old Blythe Hutchcroft of Quadra Elementary School in Victoria had spent 3 years learning and improving her violin playing. She liked it so much that she and her friends started to take a liking to classical music, something not very many sixth graders can agree with.

When the school board decided to cut the music program, she was let down. “I was really disappointed because I feel really good when I play my violin” (Chamberlain). Blythe isn’t the only one who feels happy when she plays her instrument. Nichol Luebrun of Washington Prep School claims “Sticking with the choir and band was an escape from hanging out with gang members and smoking marijuana. But the band and choir gave me more than just something to do. They changed my life. They instilled in me a love of music. They taught me discipline, perseverance, leadership, and boldness. I am proud to say that this past year I became the first person in my family to graduate from high school and attend college” (Houck). Though some schools have to schedule back to back reading and math classes to reach their necessary goal, time can be put aside in a busy week for at least a single music class. One class a week is better for a child than none at all.

Another argument regards what should be cut, if cuts are necessary to be made. Priority is crucial when it comes to education. Some say music, arts, and sports should all be removed before a single hard working teacher of a difficult subject gets cut. The purpose of school is to prepare students for higher education and employment. If there is not enough money in the budget to effectively teach math and reading, sports and music should go.

Sadly, compromises have to be made in order to keep a school running efficiently. Some teachers will be cut, and subjects will be trimmed to mold an appropriate curriculum that fits the budget. In spite of these issues, there are alternative solutions. The music program itself can raise money through a boosters program to keep a balanced fund. Students can raise money for their own instruments through bake sales and other creative fundraisers. Other ways to raise money would be to play public shows; this will promote awareness about the local school bands and orchestras. Tickets can be sold and in return, people can enjoy their children playing beautiful music in hopes to preserve the music program.

Statistics have shown that the correlation between music classes and other academia is not only positive for students, but also can improve future scholastic abilities, and thus should not be cut from schools. Students would miss out on a well-rounded curriculum as well as a foundation to every day skills. Fundraising and schedule modifying can be useful to help keep music in our schools alive. Children will gain a new productive escape to happiness and opportunities in the future will open instantly when a child learns to play in an orchestra or band. For the sake of our future generations, communities should fight to preserve music in our schools.

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