Teach the young music

Teaching music in schools is not a new concept. When I was growing up in Denver, there was an after school program in elementary school and both a jazz band and concert band in middle school (jr high school) and high school. But by the time my kids were in high school the band was an after school program with nothing for the younger kids (unless parents wanted to send their kids to private lessons). The US was in an age of "why pay for arts education, when kids should be learning the three R's 'read, riting and rithmatic'" (mis-spellings intensional).

It seems it wasn't only the US. Julian Lloyd Webber speaks about the same thing happening in the UK during the 1990's. He also speaks about how the trends is shifting back toward music education. With the success of Venezuela's El Sistema, and China's own music for everyone programme (albeit their focus is to promote a more stable politic base) it's not surprising the world is taking a look at musical education in the school again. What surprises me is that we ever felt it was a good idea to get rid of it in the first place.

Pam Link created Camp Crescendo during the 1990's in Oregon and Idaho to augment the music programs disappearing in those states. New York City had their InnerSchools Orchestra in the same era which taught inner-city kids music, with great success. Yet, both of these programme were started because the state funded music education was failing.

I suppose you could argue, "why should the state provide something when obviously other successful programs can fill the gap?" Well, because they don't fill the gap. They are isolated programs in only a few areas, while the rest of the nation is neglected. What I believe is that every student should have a chance to learn music, and they will all be better students (in other subjects) for having learned music. Creating better overall students is a benefit to society in the long run. So, I guess I'm not thinking so much about the impact on the budget today, but the impact on society tomorrow (a much more important impact, in my opinion).


MusickEd.com said…
Here's a novel idea... let's start training future music educators how to be savvy businessmen and women. Then, as fine arts programs across the nation continue to dwindle, they can create for-profit facilities in their communities and serve people of all ages and levels using the expertise for which they've been trained. This would help our profession as a whole and perhaps then, we could turn our attention to more 'gap filling' programs.
Chip Michael said…
I'm not sure, with the current trends in business news today, that we know how to teach savvy business men and women.

While I understand why some feel as though arts education ought to be self-funding (or for profit) - but I disagree with this. Art (and particularly music) helps to create better students in all subjects - just as physical education makes healthier (and better students) in all subjects). As such, it makes sense that we'd want better students.

Education is not a for profit business, but good for society. If we think it should be only run for a profit, then only the well to do will be educated - and I firmly disagree with this sentiment.

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