Music Education in Schools

Can you imagine a world without music? Studies conducted by the National Conference of State Legislatures show that public schools across the country are cutting back on music classes in an ­attempt to save money. Worse, some schools have never had music programs to begin with. But without these fundamental programs, students’ academic growth and emotional well-being could suffer, and our understanding of the universal language of music could become a thing of the past.

To prevent this, music classes should be mandatory for all students in public schools. Music is a complex language that incorporates mathematics, science, history, physical education, ­coordination, and mental dexterity. ­Recent studies by Brown University have shown that students who received music education classes were significantly more advanced in math and reading skills than those without. Another study by The College Board found that students taking music and art classes scored 58 points higher on the verbal portion and 38 points higher on the math portion of the SAT than those without access to these classes. Students’ overall academic success seems to depend on their participation in music ­education. Music programs in public schools also help to ­foster a student’s sense of pride and self-confidence.

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Teens today carry heavy baggage – not merely their backpacks, but the additional emotional weight of family problems, self-confidence issues, relationship troubles, and choices about drugs and alcohol. All of these can hinder academic success, but music education can help. The teamwork required for chorus, band, symphony, and orchestra lets students benefit from a setting that fosters acceptance and group strength. A study by The Texas Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse found that students who took part in school instrumental programs were less likely to become involved with drugs. Music programs encourage students to work together to produce an excellent performance that is both mentally challenging and confidence-building with the support of their peers.

Music crosses language, class, cultural, and political boundaries to share humanity through its beauty. The universal appeal of music allows students from different countries to connect on an equal intellectual and emotional level. For example, at a school talent show, a new Japanese student played a piano duet with an American classmate. Although they could not communicate verbally, they were able to read the music in order to play the duet. Two students from different cultures worked as a team with self-confidence and common purpose through the medium of music. Some people do not believe in the idea of mandatory music education classes.

A major argument seems to be the cost and additional expense of hiring new teachers. But since it helps develop academic abilities, this wise ­investment in a student’s future should not be ­determined by a price tag. Others argue that ­students can lose their individuality in group music settings. However, businesses prefer to hire those with experience working in a team. Music education is a wise investment that benefits students during their school years and in their future employment.

Music education remains a key component in a student’s academic success and in positive social and emotional growth. The gift of music is priceless. It enhances students’ abilities while creating ambassadors who can share the universal language of music and feel the common ties that the emotion and beauty of music evoke. We need to ­ensure that we have mandatory music classes for all students. The first step toward achieving this is ­community support.

Writing letters to school boards and local government officials urging them to create and fund more mandatory music education programs is a great way to start. A student’s future success ­depends on each letter that a caring community ­member writes. The world is losing its music, and putting music into schools is the first step in getting it back.