April 2, 2012
Sarah Baker, Ph. D.
School of Rock Music is a tool that has brought people together around the world for centuries. From telling stories and passing on legends to gathering in religious ceremony, people have joined in song and dance since the beginning of time. The United States is a melting pot of cultures, and as a result has been influenced by an immense variety of individuals musically. Music education was first introduced as a religious practice in the eighteenth century. In August of 1838, Lowell Mason “inspired the Boston Public Schools to include music in the curriculum” and less than fifty years later the National Education System established its first Music Education Program (Wilcox). A broad understanding of music creates a better understanding of other studies and more well rounded individuals. The ability for students to express themselves creatively in a learning environment is extremely beneficial and a crucial aspect of many schools. During the current recession many budgets cuts have been made, especially within the school system. Art programs in schools are becoming scarce, and the American society will eventually suffer as a result. We must “encourage efforts to incorporate musical elements in the early childhood environment that will help children establish connections with the world” (Salmon). The arts should be preserved, fought for, and kept alive in our society. Perhaps the group affected most by budget cuts are the students. Music programs are being cut in numbers and many students are suffering as a result. The arts create an outlet within schools for the youth to express themselves naturally and productively. Without this outlet many fear that these students will express themselves in negative ways and lose interest in music. In elementary schools learning an instrument can be used as an educational tool that instills patience and focus in young pupils. In middle school and high school, being a choir member or part of the band creates a sense of unity. Being a part of something bigger than ones’ self develops a sense of purpose and belonging among the hustle and bustle of teenage cliques. In addition to the obvious social benefits, many recent studies have focused on music’s educational purpose in the school environment. In her article Salmon states that “while most language processes occur in the left hemisphere of the brain, music processes occur in the right hemisphere, which suggests that the use of music in language or literacy activities can create a balance between both hemispheres.” Salmon explains that in her research, several studies have found that “using music to promote interactions between both hemispheres results in creative thinking.” Also being affected by the cuts are the hardworking artists. These adults chose a career as music teachers to ensure that generations to come will share the love and respect they have for the arts. In addition to the admiration for the arts crumbling in the future, these individuals are also fearful for their futures. With music programs being cut, many of these teachers will lose their jobs and be forced to find a school still entertaining a music program, or consider choosing another career path. It is the opinion of some that music programs show validity in schools, but should