It’s a tale as old as time: budget cuts force schools across the country to reduce their “extra” programs, which almost always included music and arts programs.
While that seems like a sensible choice to many school supervisors, how many of them have actually asked the question about what our society would look like if we didn’t bring up well rounded kids with a firm grounding in music and arts?
The Importance of Music and Arts in Schools
What would happen to our national culture? Our identity? Those are two of the easiest areas to look, but you can even go a step further and argue that music education forms a mental stimulant that propels students to great achievements.
It’s no secret that many of our nations leaders have been excellent musicians, including former President Bill Clinton (who played saxophone) and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (who was a classically trained pianist). Take it a step further, and you’ll realize that college and universities often look to outstanding music and arts backgrounds as something that distinguishes students and sets them a cut above their peers.
This trend is most prevalent in our leading, and most prestigious schools, where increasingly high percentages of students have studied an art or musical instrument.
So why, then are we cutting back on school music programs?
El Sistema Inspired Music Programs
Maybe we should take inspiration from Venezuela. Despite huge internal struggles and social unrest, one of the few things that Venezuela has done right was to create the El Sistema program, which helps youths avoid violence and grow into model citizens through music education.
This philosophy has inspired several programs in the US, including Play On Philly, which works to keep underprivileged Philadelphia teenagers off the streets and in the classroom…playing music.
Is Music Education A Cost Issue?
Obviously there’s a cost to running music programs, but the question really is: what’s the cost of not running them?