Advocacy for Music Education

Why should music be included as a basic part of the curriculum?

1. Music is worth knowing.

2. Music is one of the most important manifestations of our cultural heritage.  Children need to know about Beethoven and Louis Armstrong as well as about Newton and Einstein.

3. Music is a potential in every individual that, like all potential, should be developed to its fullest.

4. Music provides an outlet for creativity, self-expression, and individual uniqueness.  It enables us to express our noblest thoughts and feelings.

5. Music teaches students about unique aspects of their relationships with other human beings and with the world around them, in their own and other cultures.

6. Music opens avenues of success for students who may have problems in other areas of the curriculum and opens approaches to learning that can be applied in other contexts.

7. Studying music increases the satisfaction students derive from music by sharpening sensitivity, raising their level of appreciation, and expanding their musical horizons.

8. Music is one of the most powerful and profound symbol systems that exists.

9. Music helps students learn a significant lesson—that not all aspects of life are quantifiable.

10. Music exalts the human spirit.

~The School Music Program:  Description and Standards, Music Educators National  Conference, 2nd ed., 1987

“At perhaps no other time have music and arts education been more important.  Apart from their obvious benefits, music and the other arts produce critical thinkers, people who are decision makers.  In the information age, our company needs people with the critical thinking skills to analyze data and make judgments.”

~Susan Driggers, Bell South Corporation, Nashville Forum   Growing Up Complete:  The Imperative for Music Education, The Report of The National Commission on Music Education, March 1991

Musical training is a more potent instrument that any other (for education) because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful.

~Plato

“Music is…like mathematics, very nearly a world by itself; it contains a whole gamut of experience, from sensuous elements to ultimate intellectual harmonies.”

~George Santayana

So long as the human spirit thrives on this planet, music in some living form will “accompany and sustain it and give it expressive meaning.”

 ~Aaron Copland

What is true of all the arts is supremely true of music.  When a child studies music, significant elements of his or her education find focus and expression:

• developing the ability to understand and use symbols in new contexts;

• discovering the power, precision, and control of mathematics in unexpected ways;

• finding and directing personal creativity;

• exercising the diverse skills of problem-solving;

• experiencing the joy of self-expression;

• growing into the liberation acquired through self-discipline; and

• participating in the deeply human satisfaction of shared work and the gratification of challenges met.

In addition to these characteristics fundamental to education, music shares with the other arts a resource that is of paramount importance to the education of the young: Music is a highway for exploring the emotional and aesthetic dimensions of experience.  Indeed, here is where music and the other arts make their unique and most visible contribution.

Education without music shortchanges our children and their futures. 

Education with music offers exciting possibilities in two directions. As we look to the future, educational research on the nature of intelligence and brain function give promising indications that could change the face of education.  And, as we look around us in the present, we see connections between music education and changes in students that offer direct and immediate benefits, not only to them, but to the educational enterprise as a whole.

~Growing Up Complete:  The Imperative for Music Education,
The Report of The National Commission on Music Education, March 1991

Joseph M. Pisano, Ph.D. is the creator of many education websites, a lecturer, clinician, trumpeter, and conductor. He is currently the Associate Chair of Music and Director of Bands in the Calderwood School of Arts at Grove City College in PA. He been named a TI:ME Teacher of the Year, received the JEN Jazz Educator Award and the PA Citation of Excellence. He is a past Vice President of the Technology Institute for Music Educators and the current Vice-President of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association. He also writes for DCI Magazine, Teaching Music Magazine, and is the Educational Editor for In-Tune Monthly Magazine; he has contributed hundreds of articles to various publications. Find out more at his website jpisano.com.
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