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Music Education in America

In: Film and Music

Submitted By hmeixner
Words 1575
Pages 7
Hannah Meixner
Kim Holcomb
ENG 151 (MWF)

Music Education in America

The recent issue that our nation's children are being unfairly crushed under has to do with the blatant failures of our country’s educational system. It particularly has to do with about how, due to The No Child Left Behind Act, schools are teaching to the test. Now in order to get funding, schools need to have good test scores. In order to have good tests scores, they need to funnel their money into the testable subjects: English, Math, Science, and History. Thus, the arts are getting the short end of the stick. Their priorities are in the wrong place. American education is leaving the traditional, Classical way of thinking. We're getting away from the well-rounded individual. Instead we are all concerned about getting good grades, so we can get into college and major in something we hate and make money. The focus is entirely on how far can you get yourself - the American Dream has morphed completely into some money-grubbing monster. Loads of programs have already been cut, and this doesn’t exclude schools. The Columbus Symphony? First state capital to lose their orchestra’s funding. Now? Louisville declared bankruptcy, Honolulu is no more - the list goes on. Even in our own towns we see this happening. Thousands of elementary, middle, and high schools across the country have cut down on “accessory classes” as they call them, so they can focus on the core classes and “what’s important.” This doesn’t only affect the children who are missing out in the arts education, but our entire society. Who will be our future musicians? Who will shape our culture?
There have been hundreds of studies researching people who are educated in music. They have proven that this activity is not just something to do, but an actual boost of intelligence. Lewis Thomas, physician and biologist, found that music majors comprise the highest percentage of accepted medical students at 66%. For comparison, 44% of biochemistry majors were admitted. (The Case for Music in the School, Phi Delta Kappan). Also, Students taking courses in music performance and music appreciation scored higher in the SAT than students with no arts participation. Music performance students scored 53 points higher on the verbal and 39 points higher on the math. Music appreciation students scored 61 points higher on the verbal and 42 points higher on the math. (College-Bound Seniors National Report: Profile of SAT Program Test Takers, The College Entrance Examination Board, Princeton, New Jersey). Throughout the history of civilization, musical geniuses have helped sculpt generations into the cultures that we now recognize. These people include Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Neil Armstrong, and even Steven Spielberg. In fact, Bill Clinton, 42nd president of the United States, was not only a sax player but also drum major in his high school band. He credits marching band as one of his first opportunities to learn how to lead. It is astounding how these facts are overlooked when the school district cuts programs looking for higher core test scores.
On April 14th-18th 2011, I attended WGI (Winter Guard International) World Championships, as did drumlines from 42 states and 7 nations. It is one of the largest gatherings of music students and educators in the world. Each year, over 150,000 spectators fill stadiums across the country, and during the world championships alone, over 10,000 performers and 40,000 fans converge to support the pinnacle of each year’s competition. Most everyone knows about the state football play-offs, but the majority of people don’t know that this activity even exists, even though the athletes work just as hard. It is possible that awareness to the public might help the cause, as they may be more sympathetic to the vast number of participants. During the competition, I passed out 100 surveys to band students from 28 states. 89 percent of them said that they have been affected by cuts in the music programs recently. This ranged from lack of new equipment, price of participation, and even loss of directors and technicians. It was also evident by looking at the attending ensembles who was recently hit the hardest. The southern states were very under represented, and there was a 20 percent decline in participation in total. In the survey I also asked their opinions on the cuts in general. Isaac Huntoon from Cicero, Indiana said this: “The politicians just don't get it, do they? The arts are just as important to developing the mind as solving equations or mixing chemicals. Creativity is just as important as logic. Math and Science classes make the world easier to live in, to be sure, but things like the arts and English help make life worth living and give the world a personality.” Every response sounded very similar to Isaac’s. They all shared their sad stories of loss and destruction. Sung Lim from Vancouver Washington said “Hey, at least we have a drumline this year. We are very thankful for that.” Sadly, as time goes on, we will lose more and more programs across the country. 113 million, or 53% of Americans over the age of 12, are current or former music makers. (American Attitudes Towards Music poll, The Gallup Organization.) It is expected that these numbers will steadily decrease over time.
Additionally, it’s not only the music students who are getting affected. In turn, music teachers are losing jobs rapidly. Jackie Forman, a drumline director, always preached this to her students. She recently said, “I applied for 300 music education jobs before giving up and working to apply for something else in a field I wasn’t remotely interested in. Jessica Kelley (Olentangy Hyatt’s band director) has a part time job where she is doing full time work. And the drumline has to fight for funding-- not to mention things like space and resources.” The arts produce jobs, generating an estimate $37 billion with a return of $3.4 billion in federal income taxes. (American Arts Alliance Fact Sheet, October 2007). Cutting these music programs will hurt not only the teachers, but the economy as well.
Solving this problem isn’t going to be easy. Some teachers and parents feel that music education should be taken out of schools altogether. One of the main reasons, they say, is that in order for students to be held in the rankings for today’s competitive college admissions, there needs to be more of a focus on classes that will go towards a higher GPA, and not “fluff” classes like Band or Orchestra. However, according to counselors, students who have remained in band, chorus, or orchestra for all four years of high school show a tremendous amount of self-discipline and social aptitude, which will almost always put one’s application in high standing.
In these times of shrinking finances and this economy, people need to be made aware of the benefits of the education program. The Olentangy school district in Columbus, Ohio is soon to be faced with a tax levy for additional funding of school programs. The biggest issue put forth by the administration for passing these taxes is the probable discontinuation of the athletic programs. This proves the value that our current community places on the athletic programs above the fine arts programs. I doubt the community would bat an eye if a marching band’s season was cancelled, but all hell would break loose if their football ceased to exist, when in fact I believe the fine arts programs provide a more beneficial and meaningful experience to the participants. To solve this, we must rally the community and make them aware of all the benefits that the arts have to offer.
Without musical education in schools, we as a country might be looking forward to a socially inept, culturally ignorant society in the future. In order to have a country and society that works smoothly we need to have a well-balanced background, and keeping music in schools would solve the problem once and for all.

Works Cited
“About Winter Guard International.” Winter Guard International. Bands of America, Spring 2011. Web. 24 Mar. 2012. <>.
Brown, Rodger H. Why Music Education Belongs in Public Schools. YouTube. Artist’s House Community, 1 Jan. 2008. Web. 24 Mar. 2012. <‌watch?v=uA6p1I9GkX0&feature=BF&list=QL&index=11>.
Children’s Music Workshop. The Case for Music Education. YouTube. Children’s Music Workshop Group, 15 Dec. 2006. Web. 24 Mar. 2012. <‌watch?v=wUhylSoaJ1c>.
“Music Advocacy.” Music Education Online. The National Association for Music Education, June 2007. Web. 28 Mar. 2012. <‌advocacy/‌benefits.html>.
Cook, Anita. “Mission Statement.” Ohio Music Education Association. Music Educators of America, Fall 2010. Web. 24 Mar. 2012. <‌default.html>.
Robinson, Ken. “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” Ideas Worth Sharing Conference. Monterey, California. Feb. 2006. TED: Ideas Worth Sharing. Web. 24 Mar. 2012. <‌speakers/‌sir_ken_robinson.html>.
This Is WGI. Winter Guard International, 11 June 2009. Web. 23 Mar. 2012. <‌contents/‌What-is-WGI.html>.
Ward, Samuel A. “Music: In Public Schools.” Time Magazine. N.p., 7 Apr. 1930. Web. 24 Mar. 2012. <‌time/‌magazine/‌article/‌0,9171,787598,00.html>.

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