When I hear people asking, “How do we fix the education system,” I tell them we need to do the opposite of what is happening, cutting budgets by cutting music programs…Nothing could be more stupid than removing the ability for the left and right brains to function. Ask a CEO what they are looking for in an employee and they say they need people who understand teamwork, people who are disciplined, people who understand the big picture. “You know what they need? They need musicians.” said Former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee, 2007.
As I write this, the Kansas Music Educators Association In-Service Workshop has begun here in Wichita at Century II. The Workshop annually brings together music educators from across the state, along with hundreds of students who are either performing with their school choir, band, orchestra, or ensemble, or are fortunate enough to have been selected by audition for one of the festival honor groups. The educators attend clinics and concerts for three days to learn how to do their jobs better. The process of music education is the focus and the key to making students better as musicians and as individuals.
A common subject of conversation this year will be school budgets. Because of shortfalls in the revenues for the state of Kansas, schools are already cutting budgets or freezing spending. We hear many times that positions are being eliminated, band teachers are asked to teach choir, or choir teachers are asked to teach band, which is like asking an English teacher to teach math or foreign language. It’s important to remember that music is a curricular subject, like math or science. Even though it’s not currently assessed like those other subjects, it is no less important and many, like Mike Huckabee, would argue it is more important.
Teachers need our help as parents and as members of the community to speak up for what is important in our schools. Our voices do matter; in fact, they’re essential to making sure music and the arts are as supported as other curricular areas. While it is unrealistic to expect to remain unscathed, the arts should suffer their fair share, no more, no less.
An excellent resource for more information is the website www.supportmusic.com. Here you can find research about the importance of music education and “build your case” of information and knowledge to fit what is happening in your community or school. Add your voice and make a difference – because music matters!
By: Lori Supinie