Music is the one incorporeal entrance into the higher world of knowledge which comprehends mankind but which mankind cannot comprehend. — Ludwig van Beethoven I come from a family of musicians. My father and my cousin are high school band directors. Several of my relatives played in band in high school and continue to play as adults. In the past 25 years, six of my relatives have won either the John Philip Souza Band Award or the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award here at Portland High. I myself have been a musician for six years and have participated in multiple select ensembles. I have seen first-hand the positive effects music has on an individual. I am here with you today as an advocate for music education. Humans have been creating music for tens of thousands of years. It was, and still is, a major part of human society. Music education in the U.S. was first started in 1717 in Boston, Massachusetts by Lowell Mason. Ever since, tens of thousands of American schools have included music as part of their curriculum. If colonial era Americans understood the importance of music education, why is it that 20% of the schools in our country today fail to offer music? The benefits of music classes far out-weigh any reason to eliminate them. Unlike with sports, in music everybody can participate. There is no bench, like there is in soccer or basketball or baseball. Nobody in any high school band or chorus is told that they aren’t good enough to perform. For the students who did not make their schools’ sports teams, music is a good activity to be involved in because anybody can participate. In fact, performing in front of others has been shown to boost self-esteem. Music students don’t need to worry about being excluded. Music is a lifelong activity. At any age you can sit down and noodle on a piano or strum a guitar, but that is not the case with everything. There comes a time when you can no longer kick a soccer ball or swing a baseball bat, but you can always have music. After graduation, most high school athletes will never be able to play their sport at as high a level of competition as in high school, but musicians can always stay at the performance level they are at, and even go higher. Bill Tapia is 101 years old and has been performing on the ukulele since he was seven. How many 101 year old athletes are still playing? Music students learn many important and necessary principles for life. Learning to read music is like learning a new language. You must learn to decipher the symbols on the page and know how to execute them well. Someone who knows how to read music and understand what music sounds like can then practice, asses, and critique musical performances.