Press Release: Glee – Making a Difference for America's Music Students?

Glee — Making a Difference for America’s Music Students?

MENC: The National Association for Music Education Explores “The Glee Effect” on Nation’s School Music Ensembles

RESTON, VA (February 4, 2011) — MENC: The National Association for Music Education announced a nationwide poll of music educators on “The Glee Effect” to explore how the program may influence student involvement in school music programs. The poll was launched in response to numerous inquiries from the press and to a multitude of online conversations about the television program and others like it. As the poll was launched, MENC President Scott C. Shuler discussed what the existence of Glee may mean to music programs.

“MENC applauds Glee and its creators for showing millions of people each week how music benefits kids,” said Shuler. “Through the show’s portrayal of a high school show choir, Glee demonstrates how music education lifts and inspires students, in many cases providing the main reason they are excited about school. Music also provides these students with skills and knowledge they need to succeed in school and in life – learning to sing or play an instrument helps young people develop creativity, critical thinking, literacy, and teamwork skills.

“No wonder schools that have strong music programs report higher graduation rates and fewer dropouts than those that don’t,” continued Shuler, Arts Consultant for the Connecticut State Department of Education Bureau of Accountability and Improvement. “Learning music is even associated with higher education and income levels later in life. For today’s students to succeed tomorrow, they need a comprehensive education that includes music taught by exemplary music educators. We would be delighted if the success of Glee results in citizens around the country contacting their local school boards in support of their school music programs.”

MENC has conducted a number of past polls and surveys on “TV singing.” A complete list of poll results and other information is available from The “Glee Effect” poll will be active throughout February 28 on the MENC website,

When asked about some of the aspects of Glee that have been considered controversial in some quarters, Shuler commented, “The show deserves credit for featuring a wide variety of music performed with exceptional skill and expressiveness. As in real school ensembles, Glee’s students draw on the camaraderie and support of their teacher and fellow musicians to overcome personal challenges, find a place within their school where they fit in, and achieve excellence. The behavior of fictional characters, like that of real students, sometimes falls short of the ideal, but viewers understand that Glee is a television show, not reality. In real life, music students work incredibly hard to make sure they each perform their part in school ensembles to the best of their ability. That kind of sustained, detail-oriented practice is difficult to portray on a fast-paced television show. Real school musicians are less likely to engage in risky behaviors. And of course, in the real world, the choir would be a course that meets during the school day, not an after-school club, and the director would be a highly-trained, certified music educator, not a mysteriously gifted Spanish teacher!

“Fortunately for students, music teachers continue to provide inspiring ensembles like this all across our country, in spite of budget cuts that sometimes undermine the quality of music programs. We’re grateful to the teachers and supportive parents who strive to overcome difficult situations to make sure kids get to experience the benefits of learning music.”

MENC: The National Association for Music Education, among the world’s largest arts education organizations, marked its centennial in 2007 as the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. Through membership of more than 75,000 active, retired, and pre-service music teachers, and with 60,000 honor students and supporters, MENC serves millions of students nationwide through activities at all teaching levels, from preschool to graduate school. MENC’s mission is to advance music education by encouraging the study and making of music by all. Since 1907, MENC has worked to ensure that every student has access to a well-balanced, comprehensive, and high-quality program of music instruction taught by qualified teachers. MENC’s activities and resources have been largely responsible for the establishment of music education as a profession, for the promotion and guidance of music study as an integral part of the school curriculum, and for the development of the National Standards for Arts Education. MENC is located in Reston, VA.

Follow MENC on Twitter and on Facebook.