Need reasons why music shouldn't be cut!

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    Our school board wants to “improve” the school by eliminating Unified Arts in kindergarten, and by reducing it in grades 1-8. (They would have it 30 days a year instead of 36.) There is a chance they will eliminate it entirely. I need some good advocacy info as to why this is a stupid idea. References to studies are good. What are your favorite advocacy quotes and websites?


    Have you checked out the “for Advocates” tab at the top of the page? There seems to be a lot of good information there. It might be the best place to start.


    I have a few good things, but on disk. So I’m going to copy and paste them below. First is something my department supervisor shared a couple years ago during MIOSM:

    Twelve Benefits of Music Education
    Music Educaton Advocacy Resources

    1. Early musical training helps develop brain areas involved in language and reasoning. It is thought that brain development continues for many years after birth. Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds.

    2. There is also a causal link between music and spatial intelligence (the ability to perceive the world accurately and to form mental pictures of things). This kind of intelligence, by which one can visualize various elements that should go together, is critical to the sort of thinking necessary for everything from solving advanced mathematics problems to being able to pack a book-bag with everything that will be needed for the day.

    3. Students of the arts learn to think creatively and to solve problems by imagining various solutions, rejecting outdated rules and assumptions. Questions about the arts do not have only one right answer.

    4. Recent studies show that students who study the arts are more successful on standardized tests such as the SAT. They also achieve higher grades in high school.

    5. A study of the arts provides children with an internal glimpse of other cultures and teaches them to be empathetic towards the people of these cultures. This development of compassion and empathy, as opposed to development of greed and a “me first” attitude, provides a bridge across cultural chasms that leads to respect of other races at an early age.

    6. Students of music learn craftsmanship as they study how details are put together painstakingly and what constitutes good, as opposed to mediocre, work. These standards, when applied to a student’s own work, demand a new level of excellence and require students to stretch their inner resources.

    7. In music, a mistake is a mistake; the instrument is in tune or not, the notes are well played or not, the entrance is made or not. It is only by much hard work that a successful performance is possible. Through music study, students learn the value of sustained effort to achieve excellence and the concrete rewards of hard work.

    8. Music study enhances teamwork skills and discipline. In order for an orchestra to sound good, all players must work together harmoniously towards a single goal, the performance, and must commit to learning music, attending rehearsals, and practicing.

    9. Music provides children with a means of self-expression. Now that there is relative security in the basics of existence, the challenge is to make life meaningful and to reach for a higher stage of development. Everyone needs to be in touch at some time in his life with his core, with what he is and what he feels. Self-esteem is a by-product of this self-expression.

    10. Music study develops skills that are necessary in the workplace. It focuses on “doing,” as opposed to observing, and teaches students how to perform, literally, anywhere in the world. Employers are looking for multi-dimensional workers with the sort of flexible and supple intellects that music education helps to create as described above. In the music classroom, students can also learn to better communicate and cooperate with one another.

    11. Music performance teaches young people to conquer fear and to take risks. A little anxiety is a good thing, and something that will occur often in life. Dealing with it early and often makes it less of a problem later. Risk-taking is essential if a child is to fully develop his or her potential.

    12. An arts education exposes children to the incomparable.
    Carolyn Phillips is the author of the Twelve Benefits of Music Education. She is the Former Executive Director of the Norwalk Youth Symphony, CT.

    Second is my favorite, something a college prof gave us with directions to bring this to a BOE meeting if ever our programs were in danger of being cut:

    Music is:

    • Science – Music is a specialized science which deals with the qualities of sound, acoustics and timbre. Extensive training is given to the aural discrimination between like pitches and those that are different.

    • Mathematics – Although it is a simplified form of arithmetic, counting in groups of two, three, four and higher are used consistently in all music repertoire.

    • Geography – Music is common, but unique to every culture on Earth. Each music selection that our students present utilizes rhythmic patterns and a specified tonality. Both have their origins from other regions and countries on the globe. When performing these, we raise the awareness of the world around us.

    • History – Through an appreciation of music, students study the great composers of the past. When musicians understand the intentions of the composer’s masterpiece, they gain insight to all historical eras. Music acts as a blueprint, testimonial, and archive to the people and the events of the Antiquity, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Contemporary Eras. As musicians, we are able to experience a piece of history through a performance of a musical selection.

    • Foreign Language – The music which our ensembles perform has its inception from western European civilization. Though most music terms are in Italian, terms also appear in German, Spanish and French. As a result of the terminology, musicians understand the similarities between English and the Romantic/Germanic languages. The root words, prefixes, and suffixes located in the foreign language find their way directly into the English derivative. This goes a long way in building a strong vocabulary base, and will inevitably improve the students’ all important standardized test scores.

    • Physical Education – When starting and developing the wind and vocal musician, a significant amount of time is spent on developing proper breath support and appropriate respiratory habits. Rehearsals, if properly orchestrated, are as intensive and exhaustive as jogging and swimming laps. In addition, motor skills are advanced substantially when playing percussion, woodwind, brass and string instruments. As with all sports organizations, the concepts of teamwork and cooperation are exploited in the band, orchestra and chorus setting.

    Music is the universal language which establishes a common bond among all subjects and people. It evokes passionate emotions in the heart and rekindles vibrant memories of the mind. Emphasizing and enhancing music education will expand the students’ knowledge in a variety of subjects, improve their test scores, and release the human spirits.

    Lastly is something that was shared on a music teacher’s site recently:
    M ATH

    The idea with this is that the letters to spell MUSIC are highlighted in a different color (+ spaces) than the subjects which are part of any good Music Education.


    The National Association for Music Education has a flyer specifically geared toward school boards at

    Click to access get_the_message_schoolboard.pdf

    The Arts Education Partnership has a brochure called “Music Matters: How Music Education Helps Students Learn, Achieve, and Succeed” available online:

    Good luck!
    Linda Brown
    NAfME Staff


    Hello everyone,

    Happy New Year and wishing you a fantastic 2013!
    I am pleased to serve as the NAfME General Music Forum Mentor for January 2013.

    In response to advocacy points, I recommend the following:

    The International Society for Music Education has a robust advocacy section:

    As well, below are some talking points and cited publications in the areas of economic rationale, 21st Century Skills, and education of the whole child.

    Good luck!

    Economic rationale
    America’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $166.2 billion in economic activity supporting 5.7 million jobs and generating $29.6 billion in government revenue. – Arts Education in America: What the declines mean for arts participation, American for the Arts, 2011

    Nationally, there are 756,007 businesses in the U.S. involved in the creation or distribution of the arts. They employ 2.99 million people, representing 4.14 percent of all businesses and 2.17 percent of all employees, respectively. Dun & Bradstreet, Analysis by Americans for the Arts, 2011

    Individuals and organizations that focus their efforts on doing what foreign knowledge workers can’t do cheaper, and computers can’t do faster, as well as on meeting the aesthetic, emotional and spiritual demands of a prosperous time, will thrive….. W. Michael Cox and Richard Alm, of the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas, have examined ten years of employment data and discovered that the largest gains have been in jobs that require “people skills and emotional intelligence” and “imagination and creativity.” Daniel Pink – A Whole New Mind, 2005

    21st Century Skills
    (Critical thinking & problem solving, creativity & innovation, communication, collaboration, information literacy, media literacy, technology literacy, flexibility & adaptability, initiative & self-direction, social & cross-cultural interaction, productivity & accountability, leadership & responsibility)
    U.S. employers rate creativity/innovation among the top five skills that will increase in importance over the next five years, and rank it among the top challenges facing CEOs. In this study 97% of Superintendents rank music among the top courses most likely to develop creativity. – The Conference Board, Americans for the Arts, and the American Association of School Administrators, Ready to innovate, 2008

    We need people who think with the creative side of their brains—people who have played in a band, who have painted, been involved in the community as volunteers. It enhances symbiotic thinking capabilities, not always thinking in the same paradigm, learning how to kick-start a new idea or how to get a job done better, less expensively.” – Annette Byrd Manager, Healthy Work Environment, GlaxoSmithKline, Quoted in Are They Really Ready To Work? pp. 50–51

    An analysis of the National Standards for Music indicated a direct alignment with 21st century skills. Communication was positively aligned with 24 out of 27 standards, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving was aligned with 17 standards, and Flexibility and Adaptability with connections to 15 of the standards. The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards is presently engaged in creation of Common Core Standards for the Arts. 21st Century Skills, particularly Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication, and Collaboration (The 4 Cs) will be embedded in these standards. – Arts Education Standards and 21st Century Skills: An Analysis of the National Standards for Arts Education (1994) As Compared to the 21st Century Skills Map for the Arts, The College Board, NCCAS, 2011

    Education of the whole child
    The College Entrance Exam Board found that students who take four years of arts and music classes while in high school scored 102 points higher on the SAT’s than students with only one-half year or less. – 2010 College-Bound Seniors: Total group Profile Report, The College Board, 2010

    The Dana Consortium in a the study entitled, Learning, Arts, and the Brain (2008), found using brain imaging students and behavioral assessments in a three-year research project that training in music appears to improve skills in geometric representation, as well as the acquisition of reading skills and sequence learning. The Dana Consortium of Arts and Cognition, Dana Press, 2008

    Recent research supports that focused training in any of the arts – such as music, dance, or theatre, strengthens the brain’s attention system, which in turn can improve cognition more generally. – Posner & Patoine, How Arts Training Improves Attention and Cognition, The Dana Consortium Report on Arts and Cognition, Dana Press, 2009

    Research has shown that music training leads to changes throughout the auditory system that prime musicians for listening challenges beyond music processing. This effect of music training suggests that, akin to physical exercise and its impact on body fitness, music is a resource that tones the brain for auditory fitness. Therefore, the role of music in shaping individual development deserves consideration. – “Music training for the development of auditory skills,” Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Vol. 11, August 2010.


    Also see NAfME’s web page “Why Music Education?” —

    Linda Brown
    NAfME Staff

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