Preserve the benefits of school music program – McLeod County Chronicle

To the Editor:
I have been associated with music programs for the past 41 years.
I believe we vote for our school board members to do what we hope will be best for our students. This time, they are obviously just looking at the bottom line and not the best education for our children.
As soon as our board members need to save money, it seems that the music department is the first place they look. I truly believe that if they really knew what music does for a student, I would hope they would think twice about cutting the instrumental music department in any way.
You have to remember the student who starts band in fifth grade is really committing themselves, not only for that fifth grade, but for all eight years of their musical education. I have found in my 41 years that, on average, 90 percent of students who start instrumental music continue through 12th grade.
Board members think of instrumental music as an elective. With that thinking, wouldn’t classes like physics, Spanish and biology be an elective? I believe these classes may have around 25 students per class (and they feel this is too large). If you wish to save money, why not cut their positions to half time or let’s just cut FFA or the equivalent altoghter.
The concert band alone will average 80 students and the instructor has all these students in his classroom at the same time. Our elementary instrumental department alone is starting 75 students each year. The instrumental music program totals 300 students, and all of these students are being taught by two teachers.
Come on, board members, what are you thinking?
Social skills are lost when looking at your phone is all you do. I remember when a phone was actually used to physically talk to another person.
There are people better at stating the facts than I might be. I would like to reprint just one of the many lists online that states the benefits of a student being in music. This list is titled: “20 Important Benefits of Music in Our Schools.”
• Musical training helps develop language and reasoning: Students who have early musical training will develop the areas of the brain related to language and reasoning. The left side of the brain is better developed with music, and songs can help imprint information on young minds.
• A mastery of memorization: Even when performing with sheet music, student musicians are constantly using their memory to perform. The skill of memorization can serve students well in education and beyond.
• Students learn to improve their work: Learning music promotes craftsmanship, and students learn to want to create good work instead of mediocre work. This desire can be applied to all subjects of study.
• Increased coordination: Students who practice with musical instruments can improve their hand-eye coordination. Just like playing sports, children can develop motor skills when playing music.
• A sense of achievement: Learning to play pieces of music on a new instrument can be a challenging, but achievable goal. Students who master even the smallest goal in music will be able to feel proud of their achievement.
• Kids stay engaged in school: An enjoyable subject like music can keep kids interested and engaged in school. Student musicians are likely to stay in school to achieve in other subjects.
• Success in society: Music is the fabric of our society, and music can shape abilities and character. Students in band or orchestra are less likely to abuse substances over their lifetime. Musical education can greatly contribute to children’s intellectual development as well.
• Emotional development: Students of music can be more emotionally developed, with empathy towards other cultures They also tend to have higher self esteem and are better at coping with anxiety.
• Students learn pattern recognition: Children can develop their math and pattern-recognition skills with the help of musical education. Playing music offers repetition in a fun format.
• Better SAT scores: Students who have experience with music performance or appreciation score higher on the SAT. One report indicates 63 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on math for students in music appreciation courses.
• Fine-tuned auditory skills: Musicians can better detect meaningful, information-bearing elements in sounds, like the emotional meaning in a baby’s cry. Students who practice music can have better auditory attention, and pick out predictable patterns from surrounding noise.
• Music builds imagination and intellectual curiosity: Introducing music in the early childhood years can help foster a positive attitude toward learning and curiosity. Artistic education develops the whole brain and develops a child’s imagination.
• Music can be relaxing: Students can fight stress by learning to play music. Soothing music is especially helpful in helping kids relax.
• Musical instruments can teach discipline: Kids who learn to play an instrument can learn a valuable lesson in discipline. They will have to set time aside to practice and rise to the challenge of learning with discipline to master playing their instrument.
• Preparation for the creative economy: Investing in creative education can prepare students for the 21st century workforce. The new economy has created more artistic careers, and these jobs may grow faster than others in the future.
• Development in creative thinking: Kids who study the arts can learn to think creatively. This kind of education can help them solve problems by thinking outside the box and realizing that there may be more than one right answer.
• Music can develop spatial intelligence: Students who study music can improve the development of spatial intelligence, which allows them to perceive the world accurately and form mental pictures. Spatial intelligence is helpful for advanced mathematics and more.
• Kids can learn teamwork: Many musical education programs require teamwork as part of a band or orchestra. In these groups, students will learn how to work together and build camaraderie.
• Responsible risk-taking: Performing a musical piece can bring fear and anxiety. Doing so teaches kids how to take risks and deal with fear, which will help them become successful and reach their potential.
• Better self-confidence: With encouragement from teachers and parents, students playing a musical instrument can build pride and confidence. Musical education is also likely to develop better communication for students.
It also has been documented that schools with music programs have an estimated 90.2 percent graduation rate and 93.9 percent attendance rate compared to schools without music education, which average 72.9 percent in graduation and 84.9 percent in attendance.
A poster outside the Lakeside Elementary School Office said it best: “The expert in anything was once a beginner.”
Mike Tassinari
Hometown Music, Inc.
Glencoe

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