To the Editor:
Too many American school districts are dissolving their music education programs and neglecting the needs of students by redirecting their attention to other academic areas. There is no greater disservice to the millions of musically gifted students across this nation.
I am entering my senior year of high school in Florida, and as someone who plays five instruments, I am very concerned about this trend. Many public schools in my area have done away with their programs, and I hear constant stories of disappointment about this from parents and my friends who are musicians and go to these schools.
Despite my uncertainty over whether to pursue music professionally, my school’s program has taught me very valuable life lessons and has made me a better person overall. I hate to think that children are being denied this opportunity because of budget cuts and a lack of attention from policymakers and school administrations.
In an educational institution, music programs act not only as a gateway to the world of the arts, but as an opportunity to invest passion in an activity and produce quality results that reward students with pride and a sense of accomplishment. School music programs boost students’ self-esteem, cooperative abilities, leadership traits, and open-mindedness, making them well-rounded human beings. Coincidentally, being well-rounded is a major advantage in college admissions, and dedicated musicians are often accepted into high-ranking colleges and universities, even if they choose not to pursue music as a profession.
There has also been a push recently to mold students into “technical” workers, through an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education in schools. It’s no secret that engineering is a job in demand. But that’s no reason to stop funding other people’s passions and talents. While STEM education is not a negative thing, programs like music, art, and the humanities as a whole are being looked down upon, and have become victims to the heavy investment in other academic areas. Music is just as essential to the nation’s future as engineering, math, athletics, or other “common core” concerns.
The neglect of music in our schools has gone on far too long. Unless change is made, children will grow up in a world that fails to ignite their talent and imagination and reach their full potential. That is a world none of us wishes to live in. It is dry. It is boring. Above all, it is silent.
Gulliver Preparatory School
A version of this article appeared in the September 09, 2015 edition of Education Week as A Plea for Music Education and Its ‘Essential’ Benefit