Shakespeare once wrote, “If music be the fruit of love, play on.” For many years, studies have come out stating the importance of educating young children about music. Whether it’s teaching them to actually play an instrument, teaching them how to sing, or letting them play with musical toys, music has always been an important part of each child’s education. Shakespeare’s plight that music continues to play has, until now, been heeded.
In school districts across the nation, music programs are being shut down due to lack of interest and funding. Children nowadays are now uninterested in music because they haven’t been exposed to its benefits. In the Douglas County school district south of Denver Colorado, music programs in elementary schools have been completely shut down. As a fourth grader in the Douglas County school district, I was able to learn how to play the viola. I absolutely loved my orchestra class. My mind was overwhelmed with all of the music I found around me. I thought the viola was beautiful. The polished wood, the strings, and even bow seemed inspirational to me. I was amazed at the beauty of such a small thing.
For me, it was that one music class my fourth year in elementary school that started my love of music. I loved how the classical music made me feel. It was peaceful and calming; absolutely beautiful. I am ashamed to say that the same people who worked so hard to have a music program at my school are also the same people that are now finding no value in having music programs anymore. “Music is integral to a child's early experiences” (Youth Music). Children’s minds grow at a fast rate, and they always need something like music to stimulate it. Countless studies have been done that show that kids who listen to Mozart or other classical music have a higher intelligence than those kids who do not listen to that kind of music. Music has been said to be a “tool for enhancing the learning process” (Levy). Children would have a greater opportunity to learn if music was a more prevalent force in the learning environment.
It is disappointing to see children with such potential, not given any sort of opportunity to expand their minds with the power of music. Parents across the nation should raise their voices to this cause. Their children are being denied of wonderful opportunities to grow their potential talents and their intelligences.
As a former member of the Arapahoe Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, (APYO), I have been a witness to the terrible lack of interest and care in music education. Once a prestigious youth symphony, APYO, has now disbanded. The community has stopped supporting the symphony and much talent is now going to waste. The kids that were a part of that symphony no longer have a place to go to foster not only their musical abilities, but their minds as well. It takes a lot of brain power to be able to master a musical instrument and the kids that were a part of that symphony worked so hard to be there. The audition process was very challenging. Hours of practicing often times, wasn’t even enough for some kids to get accepted into the symphony. The kids that were accepted dedicated their time and money to the APYO program. They took their music very seriously. If it had not been for what those kids learned in their elementary school years, they would not have the opportunity to participate in a group as prestigious as the APYO symphony.
While not every child has the desire or the yearning to learn to play a musical instrument, I think it is important that every child gets the opportunity to learn about music. Music is the language that every person in this world understands. If the public school system sees music education as unimportant compared to sports teams, then they have very flawed logic. Yes, sports are very important as well, however, music is just as important. It is the very essence of every person. Music can speak to a person in ways that words simply cannot. How wonderful would it be if every person on the entire planet could be fluent in the same language? That is the power music has.
Public elementary schools need to reconsider their missions. They are put in place so that a young child can start off their school experience with a solid foundation of learning; a foundation that should be made up of many different subjects. Allan Reid once said that “music is timeless.” Music is something that will never change. It will always be around even in times of economic stress or political unrest. When someone passes away, often times it is music at their memorial service that brings the most comfort to those mournful people. Children today need to be able to understand the importance of music in the world today. With the removal of music programs in elementary schools, a child’s opportunities for their future are narrowed.
I have always found enjoyment in being able to play my viola. I still remember my old orchestra classes. Each class, I learned more and more about how I could not only improve, but how music touches people. I am so grateful for the opportunity I had as a young fourth grader to participate in music. If it had not been for that class and that music teacher, I would not be where I am intellectually, today. My mind has been able to grow and expand exponentially with my love for music. It is my plight that music education is taken seriously by elementary schools. Children’s minds grow very quickly when they are young. They are always taking in everything around them and everything that they are taught. If the younger generation can cultured with music, they will be able to comprehend more, and then they can lead our country into the future. In his most recent State of the Union Address, President Obama stated that in order to compete with the rest of the world, “we need to out-educate... the rest of the world” (Obama).
Music makes a difference; a big difference. Specific songs often times bring back memories that would have been otherwise forgotten if it hadn’t been for that song. Music truly is the essence of everything that a society is. It has amazing power; power that can change the world.
Shakespeare, William. Famous Quotes, Quotations, and Sayings at WorldOfQuotes. Web. 22 Sept. 2011. <http://www.worldofquotes.com/search.php?op=search>.
Levy, Yiftach. "Effect of Music on Learning: Davidson & Powell, 1986 = Easy Listening, Increase in On-task Performance for Males and Whole Class, Insignificant for Fem." Please Note the Change of Address! San Diego State University. Web. 22 Sept. 2011. <http://edweb.sdsu.edu/courses/ed690dr/examples/litrev/levy.htm>.
Obama, Barack. "State of the Union." Address. State of the Union Address 2011. U.S. Capitol Building, Washington D.C. 25 Jan. 2011. The White House. Web. 22 Sept. 2011. <http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/25/remarks-president-state-union-address>.
Reid, Allan. Famous Quotes, Quotations, and Sayings at WorldOfQuotes. World of Quotes. Web. 19 Sept. 2011. <http://www.worldofquotes.com/search.php?op=search>.
"Youth Music - Youth Music Funding Statistics." Youth Music - Children's Charity UK - Youth Music - Music Is Power. Youth Music. Web. 22 Sept. 2011. <http://www.youthmusic.org.uk/About-us/Stats.html>.