What Will You Do?
The state of Americas music education is appalling. The Guitar Center Music Foundation was created to address the declining state of music programs in and out of schools, which is not something the foundation can fix alone. With your help, we can improve the state of music education, and all education, in America.
The foundation understands that music is an essential element in the fabric of an enduring society and that our society is suffering. Our mission is to have the benefits of making music available to everyone. We want to see strong music programs in schools, with the ultimate goal to have every student, and subsequently the entire weave of our society, experience the positive influence of music.
What is so amazing about music education? Music makes an important difference. Research shows it improves SAT scores along with reading and math skills, enhances higher brain function, develops quick and decisive thinking, increases self-confidence and builds teamwork. Studying music doesn’t merely teach about music, it develops valuable skills, which remain with that person for life.
The number of studies that show the amazing benefits of music education is growing. They report benefits ranging from increased test scores to more positive social interaction and even to advancement of societies. A few of these benefits are listed as follows:
- Music enhances the process of learning, which includes integrated sensory, attention, cognitive, emotional and motor capacities (R.R. Konrad, Empathy, Arts and Social Studies, 2000).
- Students exposed to music-based lessons scored a full 100% higher on fractions tests than those who learned in the conventional manner (Neurological Research, March 15, 1999).Students who participate in school band or orchestra have the lowest levels of current and lifelong use of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs among any group in our society (H. Con. Res. 266, United States Senate, June 13, 2002).
- A McGill University study found that pattern recognition and mental representation scores improved significantly for students given piano instruction over a three-year period (Dr. Eugenia Costa-Giomi, “The McGill Piano Project: Effects of three years of piano instruction on children’s cognitive abilities, academic achievement, and self-esteem,” presented at the meeting of the Music Educators National Conference, Phoenix, AZ, April, 1998).
- The world’s top academic countries place a high value on music education. Hungary, Netherlands and Japan stand atop worldwide science achievement and have strong commitments to music education. All three countries have mandated music training at the elementary and middle school levels, both instrumental and vocal, for several decades. The centrality of music education to learning in the top-ranked countries seems to contradict the United States focus on math, science, vocabulary, and technology (1988 International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement Test).
- A ten-year study, tracking more than 25,000 students, shows that making music improves test scores. Regardless of socioeconomic background, music-making students get higher marks in standardized tests than those who had no music involvement. The test scores studied were not only standardized tests, such as the SAT, but also in reading proficiency exams (Dr. James Catterall, UCLA, 1997).
Music provides an experience that greatly enhances a person socially and neurologically. With this in mind, we will agree that music education must be part of our society.
Music should not be merely an extracurricular activity in school, and cannot be viewed as a fringe issue. It is important to everyone, and we all need to start approaching the subject more directly. Only after our country as a whole realizes the importance of music, can music education begin to achieve the support and funding it needs.
The public agrees with our stance on music education. A recent Gallup Poll showed that 95% of the people surveyed think music is part of a well-rounded education, 93% said that music should be offered as part of school curriculum, and 78% agreed that the state should mandate music education for all students.
As the public increases its awareness of music education, the federal government reflects the positive ideology. The No Child Left Behind Act lists the arts among the core academic subjects, requiring schools to enable all students to receive a comprehensive arts education. In addition, the U.S. House of Representatives (with the Senate concurring) unanimously passed a resolution that states many benefits of school music programs (House Concurrent Resolution 355). Along with recognizing many of the benefits of music in education, the resolution also acknowledges that students attending inner city public schools have little access to music education and are consequently at a disadvantage to the peers. These two statements from the federal government show there is support for music education, but these views have yet to be put into full practice.
One effort the foundation is glad to see is the new California state budget. It includes substantial consideration for the arts in schools. Although the initial one-time grant and the increase in the annual funding both provide significant support, it is only the beginning. Funding is an integral part of the process, but it is not the entire solution. We must all work together to emphasize the necessity of music in schools and to ensure the success of music programs.
So, now that this issue, essential to the success of our society, has been brought to your attention, what will you do about it? How will you ensure that students are given the resources to learn to the best of their abilities? The future of our country relies on this, please take a stand.
The Guitar Center Music Foundation is here to help. Please contact us so that we may know your opinion of this issue. Help us to reverse the downfall of music in America.
The Guitar Center Music Foundation