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Educators, Entertainers To Study Music, Arts Instruction

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A commission formed to give music and arts instruction a higher profile in the national education-reform debate is scheduled this week to begin a series of three regional hearings.

The National Commission on Music Education will conduct public forums in Los Angeles this week, in Chicago on Oct. 18, and in Nashville on Nov. 14.

The panel, which includes prominent figures in both education and entertainment, was formed by music educators and music-industry officials who said they feared the school-reform movement had bypassed art and music.

"We were concerned that the4American agenda for improving education, as outlined by the President of the United States and others, seemed to be solely focused on mathematics, technology, and the sciences," said John Mahlmann, executive director of the Music Educators National Conference, one of three national groups that helped form the commission. "It's important to us that music and other arts should not be left out of that."

Also helping to organize the commission are the National Association of Music Merchants and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

The 60 panel members include an unlikely mixture of well-known educators, entertainers, and politicians. Among them are Ernest L. Boyer, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; the singers Billy Joel, Luciano Pavarotti, and Barbara Mandrell; the actor Jack Lemmon; the presidents of both of the nation's teachers' unions; and three members of the Congress.

The group's charge is to assess the state of music and arts education, recommend strategies for improving children's access to such instruction in school, and spotlight the ways in which those studies may contribute to education reform.

The commission's final report is to be presented in March, during a national symposium on the subject in Washington.

Panel organizers pointed to the recent findings from the 22nd Annual Gallup/Phi Delta Kappa poll as evidence of the lack of attention being paid to music and arts education. The survey, which polled 1,924 adults, found that Americans consistently rate art and music at the bottom of the list of subjects schools should require or even emphasize.

And statistics from the National Assessment for Educational Progress indicate that, in 1979, American high-school students knew less about music than their peers did in 1971. No national assessment of students' knowledge of music has been conducted since then, according to researchers at menc

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