Why Music Education Actually Matters
Vast research shows that children who study music tend to have larger vocabularies and more advanced reading skills than their peers who do not participate in music lessons.
Someone put a violin in my hands in the first grade, and I’m glad they did. While those squeaky four strings eventually yielded to a Beatles-inspired embrace of the guitar, my destiny was clear.
After spending decades being an educator and now acting as the vice president of a music college, I’ve treasured meeting thousands of talented students who have come to Hollywood to study music and pursue their dreams of a future in the music industry.
Paving a path
Daily, I’m reminded that these students are the lucky ones who broke through. These students were supported by family, teachers, the non-profit sector, mentors and their community, which ultimately inspired them to pursue of a college education in contemporary music.
“Culture, education and creative opportunity are the birthright of our children.”
For most of us, a life without music is unthinkable. Yet, as the 21st century unfurls, we witness the continuous, drastic erosion of funding and support for music education in public schools across the country. We’ve replaced the “forest” of our once lauded, well-rounded American education practices with “the trees” — or “Common Core Standards”. Today, music education now makes a cameo appearance in classrooms as a mere curricular footnote, if at all.
Even in the face of scientific research that prove music studies to be quantifiable accelerants in cognitive development, analytic prowess, improvisational capacity, innovation and success in the business realm, our youth must often look outside of their schools for music education.
Are we now becoming a country of musical illiterates as creators and audiences? Do our kids really believe that winning on The Voice or getting discovered on YouTube are the only pathways to becoming a successful musician? Who needs an education, right?
Thankfully, the loud cries to rescue public school music education during this crisis are being heard, and many helping hands are reaching out to help. Many national non-profits are doing exceptional work to put music back into schools. Among them are Little Kids Rock, Music Unites, Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, NAMM Foundation, and The Recording Academy, as well as countless individual, local non-profits such as The Musicians Foundation.
These diverse groups are gaining some lost ground by creating new in-school music programs, extra-curricular programs, building community and ultimately changing kids’ lives. Each is dedicated to the core value that culture, education and creative opportunity are the birthright of our children. This song is ours to sing for them, and it’s the tune I’ve sung my whole life thanks to a wonderful first grade music teacher.
by: Beth Marlis Executive Director The Musicians Foundation, VP, Musicians Institute