In 2008, I conducted a series of interviews with music educators, professionals, musicians, and advocates articulating the universal benefits of music education and participation. One of the most memorable of those discussions was with Dave Wish, founder and Executive Director of the non-profit, “Little Kids Rock.” LKR provides musical instruments and instruction to at-risk kids and teachers.
Great points made by Dave that should be staples of any music enthusiast’s/advocate’s discussions!
NAMM and music educators recently partnered to develop an 8-page insert for the Washington Post outlining the academic, social, and wellness benefits of playing music. The .pdf is available at the NAMM website.
I recall watching Amy Winehouse perform during the GRAMMY awards in 2008, and I watched her get showered with awards and accolades shortly thereafter (5 GRAMMYS that evening). There were 2 things that were plainly obvious to those inside and outside of the recording industry that night: 1) This is an immensely talented performer with enormous upside potential 2) Winehouse was on a dangerous path and perhaps the tip of a downward spiral, given her problems with addiction and the underlying emotional issues that all too often derail the careers of emerging artists. I couldn’t help think that there was something terribly afoul and enabling with the idea of heaping praise on a woman in such peril after she declared in song, “They tried to make me go to rehab, I said, no, no, no.”
We speak of the power and merits of artistic expression in this forum a great deal, but the story of Amy Winehouse is a cautionary tale. Exposing children to music and the arts provides a valuable outlet for their emotions, and is a tool in teaching them to live productive and healthy lives – but it’s just a start. It’s important to realize and acknowledge its limitations as well. I’m no expert, but I think it’s safe to say that Winehouse’s underlying issues could not be resolved by a piano, guitar, or microphone.
I’ve spoken to music therapy experts, and they’ve echoed these sentiments as well. We must be realistic and practical in espousing the power and benefits of music and music education. Those who oversell its potential provide ammunition for the skeptics and sabotage the scientific advances made by the true practitioners of music and sound therapy, arts integration, and arts education in general.
This article by Ronnie Sanders, a member of the fine arts faculty at Jefferson High School in San Antonio and an appointee to a sub-Committee of the Texas Commission on the Arts, echoes the sentiments we express here often on the benefits of music and arts education. My takeaways and key points included:
- “The arts do not exist simply to perform; the arts exist to transform.” (great line!)
- “We use music to make better students who are ready to use the skills they learn in fine arts classes in order make a significant contribution in a global economy of thinkers, creators and problem-solvers.”
- “Far from being superfluous, the arts are now regarded as a necessary component of a well-rounded quality education.”
- “Our children are not mere statistics or cold, calculated averages. At the core of every student is a heart with a desire to excel in life — and the arts are here to help them accomplish their dreams!”
Read the entire article at MySanAntonio.com
A quick word of thanks to The Daily Riff and Catherine Westerberg for inviting me to provide a guest post regarding a new twist on the benefits of music education. Lots of great info and ideas on education and education reform on the website – take a few minutes to take a look!
The most basic principle of launching a new product or service and the greatest success stories come when an entrepreneur recognizes a void in the marketplace and serves that need and those customers.
Learning a Lesson From ESPN
Does anybody recall the early days of ESPN, the Sports cable giant. There wasn’t much to shout about in terms of major sports programming – Australian Rules Football and a plethora of rarely televised events. The staple of the network that fueled its growth from the early days was its own sports news program – Sportscenter.
Why was Sportcenter so successful that it was able to build the foundation for a multi-billion dollar sports icon. Well think about what has been happening to the sports segment of your local news programming.
In most markets, the sports highlights and recap segment of the news has dwindled, as have the resources allocated to employ journalists, producers, etc. According to a 2006 study by the Penn State Center for Sports Journalism in a survey of the top 50 markets, the average local sports segment is 3 minutes.
The logic is that weather and news affect everyone, but sports only appeals to sports fans. Yet that doesn’t mean there aren’t legions of sports fans longing for a more extensive sports news program with highlights and analysis presented by enthusiastic and entertaining broadcasters, and that’s what ESPN’s Sportscenter provided.
- If you’re at a private school, any differentiator is a selling feature that can help attract students. At your open houses, your potential students and their families might not consider arts education a priority. Articulate that you’re still committed to excellence in the arts – but more importantly – tell them why it’s important!
- Create marketing materials with similar themes.
- If you’re not competing for enrollment, your administrator still wants recognition for your school. Summarize your accomplishments and create relationships with local media.
- Track down your former students and ask them to articulate what being a part of your arts or music education has meant to them personally and professionally as they’ve moved throughout their careers. Nothing is more effective in sales than the testimonial of a happy customer.
- Ask those same former students to come back and perform or speak to your students and parents. Seeing these successful professionals with provide a clear demonstration that your program impacts lives.
It’s a cliche, but in every challenge there is opportunity. And if you’re a great arts or music educator (and I know you are!), let ‘em know it!
We featured a lecture by Frank Battisti here before, but I urge you to watch the video below. In this brief panel discussion, he reiterates many of the points (benefits of music education and the role of the music education program) we’ve made here before, yet he does it more articulately, succinctly, and thoroughly than any speaker that I can recall.
“We have got to grow music lovers. Kids who love music. Not band, not activity – music. And it starts with the teacher loving music.”
“Music is essential to the development of every child, not just the ones in my band. I’m not happy until every child has quality music education, because for the full development of that child, that’s essential.”
“We’ve got to sell it (music education) like Madison Avenue”
“Our job is to get kids to Grow, understand, appreciate, and love music”
“The issue in art is not being better than anybody else – it’s about finding who you are and being creative. There are no trophies for that, but there’s great enrichment and great fulfillment from it.”
I once interviewed the Development Director for a symphony organization, and he said that when he speaks to representatives from major donor organizations, most were involved in music programs as a child – and that’s the danger of cutting school music programs – the number of individuals who “buy in” to the power and benefits of music education is likely to diminish.
I recently listened to an interview with Dr. Richard Fratianne and a burn patient regarding the benefits of music therapy as a healing aid. Interesting that Dr. Fratianne indicated that music was an integral part of his upbringing.