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An interesting video for Advocacy Thursday

Posted on 24 July 2009 by urbanmusiceducation.org

Ok, here’s my $.02 on this video:

Sure, music helps math and science scores go up, so the studies show. But, where are the studies that say taking math and science will help with one’s musicianship? Why can’t we be the nation that competes with other nations to have the best, highly regarded ARTISTS AND MUSICIANS instead of scientists and mathematicians.  If we are to say that the two (or three) are truly correlated then it should work both ways. It seems like for the past two decades America has been so anxious about “measuring up” in the areas of science and math, that we have sissified the Arts into a fluff of extraneous activity. Luckily there are those who are grasping at straws to produce valid “reasons” for including the Arts back into the mainstream of education. But, I am tired of “the Arts” being used as a tool for raising test scores and creating “smarter” children. WE know that music and art making are essential parts of our humanness- whether we are becoming “smarter” or not.  I hold the philosphy that music can and should be taught to ALL people regardless of whether they are getting smarter in other areas. I would not stop teaching or making music if I did not see my students SAT scores rising. In fact, it is my students with low grades and poor self-esteem who need music and art in their lives the most. Their grades may never rise, but for some, it’s what gets them to school every day.

I agree with Paul Stewart, in his article “The true intrinsic value of music study” published in American Music Teacher:

We want people to study science because we want achievement in science and we want people to study music because we want achievement in music. Just as we want studies in science for everyone whether they will become scientists or not, we want studies in music for everyone whether they will become musicians or not. The arts are basic. Music should be an essential subject of every person’s life. On some level, every child and every adult is musical. Music is not a means to an end, but an end in itself. Music has value in and of itself. Its fundamental worth is not defined by nonmusical results. The basic, intrinsic value of music study comes shining through during every ensemble rehearsal, every group lesson, every private music lesson, every practice session and in every performance venue throughout the world.

I truly believe that higher test scores are a nice side effect of studying an instrument, participating in a dance class, or singing in a choir, but all of these “activities” serve a higher purpose when pursued for their intrinsic, ARTISTIC values and not their superficial, extrinsic, brain-boosting powers. Seeking out ways we can “convince” our administrators and legislature that the Arts are vital to our human nature, not just our academia, should be at the forefront of every educator’s agenda  in this country. Saying that the Arts is a CORE SUBJECT of NCLB, then making it subserviant to other subjects by touting that it “helps out” is like saying minorities have the same rights as everyone else, when we know that racial injustices happen still every day in this country. Those are my thoughts. Feel free to comment at will.

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