Orbert Davis on Music Education

Excerpt from an interview with Orbert Davis, conductor of the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, regarding the importance of music education:

THIRSTY: It has been well established that children benefit academically from music and other arts programs that stimulate and engage their imaginations and creativity. Jazz Alive (the education arm of Chicago Jazz Philharmonic) programs are outstanding for doing this. If the research is in, why has it been difficult to convince education administrators to support music programs that can help their schools meet higher academic standards?

OD: In most cases, it has to do with three factors… money (or lack of), administrators’ musical experiences, or extreme pressure to focus on core subjects. I cannot argue the fact that schools are experiencing economic problems. But to ignore the role that music and the arts play is tragic – especially with the plethora of music advocacy that trumpet the many benefits of music participation. There has to be a shifting of core values and long-term planning. Many administrators may feel that music programs cater to a chosen few – those who participate due to have parental support, special gifts, etc. Music is often viewed as a performance art of a select few. I believe that all students should have some sort of music education experience and exposure with more programs focused on music in education and cross-curricular learning. We’ve had great success with our cross-curricular programs. Music connects with reading, math, history and other subjects as well. Jazz Alive (formerly MusicAlive) was founded based on those principles. I’m confident that there will be a time where administrators will be forced to search for new creative ideas, once it is proven that current strategies are not producing the desired results.

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