Why Music Education Continues to Lose the Funding Battle
Do you believe in art for art’s sake? Me too. Music and the arts help us connect as humans and share common emotions. They can be a conduit for social change. They inspire us to see the best in ourselves, and achieve our own potential. No argument here.
Here’s the problem – those who are tasked with prioritizing education funding believe in art for art’s sake as well – they just don’t always believe it’s a function that the education system should be subsidizing, at least when push comes to shove in difficult economic times.
We should be able to justify arts on their own merits – in an ideal world. Here on the planet earth, it’s not working. Essentially, legislators and administrators believe that when forced to choose between worthwhile priorities, the most essential function of education is to prepare students for their careers. Art for art’s sake is an argument that essentially frames the music education funding discussion in this way for legislators and administrators – Do I fund programs that are necessary or those that are a luxury in the context of preparing students for the “real world?” Math and reading are seen as essential in any vocation, music only for the aspiring musician.
We need to reframe the terms of the debate.
Certainly programs will always exist that will nurture those identified as musical prodigies and develop their talents in the pursuit of music as a career. That’s not my greatest concern. The value of music education is in exposing all students to the arts and providing them with a vehicle for developing creative, diverse, and broad-minded individuals more ready for a changing world and changing workplace in any field.
For someone who has written a book entitled Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music that chronicled the stories of 32 CEOs and business leaders articulating the 9 common lessons of music education that translated into success in business, I might be seen as a shameless self-promoter for sharing this message. Understood.
The truth is that the futility of music education advocacy is the reason that I left corporate America to write the book. It’s why I have toured the nation over the last 6 months speaking to early morning television shows, radio stations, civic associations, music teachers and students, AARP chapters, bloggers, podcasters, and just about anyone who would listen. Until we start articulating that music and the arts are essential these days in preparing students for all vocations, current trends will continue. To borrow a tired phrase, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result,” or words to that effect.
Let’s take sports by comparison. There are scores of current and retired professional athletes feeding Corporate America with analogies between sports and business success at conventions, banquets, and sales training events. And a sports obsessed nation of pro athlete wannabees in business suits eat it up every day.
Answer this question – How is athletic program funding doing compared to music education funding these days?
Don’t get me wrong – I believe in sports as a learning experience and the transcendent lessons of the playground as well. My own son has grown tremendously in terms of his self-confidence by disciplining himself to learn the skill of hitting and catching a baseball, and I’m proud to have played a role in that experience.
But children can achieve the same result by learning scales, playing in a band, or improvising a solo.
One of my great concerns in speaking to music education associations is their resignation to the reality that music will always be first on the funding chopping block. It’s my hope that a new generation of music education students and future educators will re-energize the debate. HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS: They enter their careers armed with the reality that the sensitivities and skillsets of the artist are increasingly in demand in the workplace, even in traditionally “left-brain” industries and careers (well articulated by such author/speakers as Daniel Pink, John Kao, and Sir Ken Robinson).
But it won’t happen without passion. There’s always another priority, and generally one that’s worthwhile, that will compete for music and arts education funding if you don’t speak up and let your voice be heard.
Get involved, get others involved, and express your concerns – or live with the consequences.
(Craig Cortello is the author of Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music. He is a speaker/trainer who articulates the universal lessons of music education and uses music to facilitate adult learning in corporate environments. For more info, visit Craig’s website)
March 17, 2010 - Posted by The Business Musician | Books News, Creativity, Education, Music, Music Education, Music Education Advocacy, Speaking, The Arts, Universal Lessons of Music | Art for Art's Sake, Arts Advocacy, Arts in our schools, Craig Cortello, Daniel Pink, Education Reform, Everything We Needed to Know About Business We Learned Playing Music, Funding the Arts, John Kao, Ken Robinson, Music Education Advocacy, Music Education Budget Cuts, Music Education Funding, Music Education Funding resources
5 Comments »
Buy Craig’s Book @ Amazon
Visit Our Website
- RT @WWLTV: Prince Charming and the Disney Princesses are ready for #MardiGras2014! http://t.co/4omHzBqu42 3 days ago
- RT @leahkpickett: My aunt's high school prom date just won an Oscar. Congrats, Matthew McConaughey! #oscars http://t.co/B4nhrau9sk 4 days ago
- RT @BasinStRecords: King of #Bacchus, @HughLaurie, enjoyed Jon Cleary's music enough to take the time to write a review! http://t.co/nin6e… 5 days ago
- RT @NOLA_FilmEvents: RT @HughLaurious: @hughlaurie Favorite photo so far! #bacchus #MardiGras We all loved it so much! http://t.co/JNu7jslm… 5 days ago
- RT @AlbertBrooks: I'm at a big party tonight. I hope the Broncos don't lose again 5 days ago
Craig M. Cortello
Academy of Achievement American Idol Arts Advocacy Arts Education Autism Beatles Benefits of Music Benefits of Music Education Benefits of the Arts Berklee Berklee School of Music Bob Dorough Bob Massie Classical Music Craig Cortello Crayola Creativity Creativity in Education Creativity in the Workplace Dave Wish Dean Deyo Education Reform Ellis Marsalis El Sistema Everything We Needed to Know About Business We Learned Playing Music Fostering Creativity Genevieve Thiers Greg Estes Innovation Irvin Mayfield Jazz Jazz Education Jazz Guitar Joe Santa Maria Karen Nisenson Ken Robinson Lafargue Pianos Liberal Arts Education Little Kids Rock Louis Armstrong Mark Truman Melody Gardot MENC Michael Gold Monica Ricci Movie Soundtrack Music Music Advocacy Music Education Music Education Advocacy music education and success Music Education and workplace skills Music Education Budget Cuts Music Education Funding Music Education Resources Music Non-Profit Music Quote Music Therapy NAMM Neil Moore New Orleans New Orleans is the One I Love New Orleans Jazz New Orleans music New Orleans Music History New Orleans Musicians No Child Left Behind risk Roger H. Brown Romy Kaye Schoolhouse Rock Sittercity SONOMA standardized testing TED
Albums Books News Business Children's Music Creativity Education Education Reform Guitar Jazz Music Music Blog Music Education Music Education Advocacy Music History Musicians Music Industry Music Movies Music Quotes Music Recording Music Technology Music Therapy Music Video New Orleans Songwriting Speaking The Arts Uncategorized Universal Lessons of Music University Music Programs