Public Music Education
Music education in public schools is in trouble, and it has been for more than a decade. It’s not that there aren’t any music programs in public schools, because there are. According to the last U.S. Department of Education report, nearly 94% of public elementary schools offer some kind of music education. However, when you dig a little deeper into the report, according to NPR, what you find is that the ratio of students to music teachers is often close to a staggering 1 per 1000 students. And educators who were questioned about the quality of their music programs found them shockingly inadequate: from broken classroom equipment, to insufficient prep time, the news was not good.
The fault is not with teachers or even school administrators, and it’s certainly not with parents. There’s just not enough money in the system to provide the educational staples (i.e. Language, Math and Science) and a comprehensive music program. Add in the fact that many families need two working parents to cover basic living costs, and music lessons become a luxury few can afford. Many families don’t have the time or the money, or both. That’s where we come in. Our program is designed to bridge the gap in public and private music education.
- Over 2 million children across the United States have no access to music education.
- It is not unusual for schools to have a ratio of 1000 students per 1 music teacher.
- 36% of “elementary school music specialists” said that “instructional resources” were “not at all adequate or minimally adequate.”
The Benefits of Music
- Let’s get one thing out of the way: learning music is not the best way to improve your child’s language, math or science skills. Yes, there are a number of studies that show students who play an instrument tend to perform better in school, or show improved reasoning abilities, and there’s no doubt that music can help your child in the primary scholastic areas, but that’s not the reason to study music. The simple fact of the matter is, if you want your child to improve in math, they need to practice math; the same goes for language arts and science.
- Your child’s musical education is important because music is important in and of itself. Learning to play and appreciate classical music is important on its own; it doesn’t need to help you with math. Learning to play a folk melody on the guitar or match pitch with a favorite pop vocalist is its own reward. Playing, singing and appreciating music has joy built right into it.
- It’s also important to remember that one form of music isn’t better than another form for the purposes of education. Studying classical vocal technique isn’t going to make you a better R&B singer; if you want to get better at R&B you should sing R&B. That doesn’t mean some things don’t carry over: scales and vocal exercises and warm-ups help in every type of music, and “cross-training” in a variety of musical genres can help spark creativity. But at Music for Everyone, not only don’t we believe that a musical education needs to be justified in terms of how it serves other disciplines, we don’t believe one type of music needs to be defended or justified in terms of another. We believe that once your child has the basics down, she should study the kind of music that makes sense for her and for you.
- There is one thing, however, that a musical education can teach your child besides the ability to play an instrument or carry a tune, and that’s the value of hard work. Music is the most effective way to convey the internal rewards that accompany a sense of accomplishment. We’re born to love music. Every culture ever studied makes music, so when your child progresses in his ability to make music he will feel great about it on his own. He doesn’t need a grade, or even praise from a parent or guardian. And that sense of accomplishment will carry over into other areas. She’ll understand as a teenager or young adult what it means to work at something and feel the results. Music is the best way to teach that, because music is its own reward.