15 March 2012
Benefits of Required Music Education
According to “College Bound Seniors National Report: Profile of SAT Program Test Takers,” “Students in music appreciation classes scored 63 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on math than students with no arts participation.” Music programs are being cut and underfunded even though these programs should be the first to be funded; they provide a magnitude of benefits. Music should be taught progressively just like English or social studies. The music class would start out as it does in most music classes in elementary school, going through the basic history and learning how to play the recorder. Then, in middle school, it would gradually become more complex and include knowledge of music history, basic music theory, and basic instrument skills. In high school, the class would branch out to include intermediate music theory and instrument skills. Music should be required in all grades because it benefits the student learning process.
According to the Music Educators National Conference of 1991, “Music can make a significant contribution to all of education in terms of student benefits by enhancing key developmental goals such as self-esteem and creativity” (Eady and Wilson “The Influence” 243). The importance of music education has been debated, mostly in the past thirty years. Recently, some band directors have been forced to share jobs. This change means a high school band director has to be the middle school band director as well as the elementary school band director. An overload can take the focus away from improving the high school band program. Music classes are taught only once a week in local elementary schools. In local middle schools the only source of music education is the exploratory band, choir, and orchestra program. No general music classes are required, which means students not enrolled in the arts program will have no music education. In high school there are more options for music education, but they are not directly required. Some options included are symphonic band, jazz ensemble, show choir, concert choir, and music theory, which is only offered as an independent study at Columbus East High School. In order to graduate with a Core40 Diploma, a student needs to obtain five direct elective class credits. This is two and a half years of any fine arts, world language or C4 class. Students involved in music programs have to raise incredible amounts of money in order to participate in the programs. Locally the cost can be as much as five hundred dollars per year. The expense can make participation for low socioeconomic students impossible.
There are often misconceptions about the usefulness of music education. Eric Gutjahr, an IU psychology teacher at Columbus East High School, received his master’s degree in psychology from Indiana University. “The main thing about music is it is an artistic way to express our love of patterns and you see it in art, visually, and mathematics is all about patterns” (Gutjahr). There are often misconceptions about the usefulness of music education. In basic mathematics classes, students learn simple algorithms which are, in essence, patterns of finding answers. Music also uses patterns to express rhythms and melodies. So many links exist between music and math. In music there are notes that have certain time value just as math has numbers and variables that represent value. In common time a measure of music has four full beats. Although many possible variations can be used to make the four full beats, the total will still always equal four. Quarter notes equal one beat, eighth notes equal half a beat, sixteenth notes equal a fourth of a beat, and likewise for the rests. There can be two sixteenth notes, a quarter rest, an eighth note, and two quarter notes, and still be four beats. There are simple and complex fractional mathematics involved when reading and...
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