Monday, June 3, 2019

Music Matters

There is never a bad day or a bad time for Music Education advocacy. Research has consistently shown that musical experiences from children’s earliest years bear fruit in numerous ways. I could start now and still be writing tomorrow. Just yesterday I saw an article about how medical schools are finding that students who have pursued instrumental music have the superior fine motor skills needed for delicate work like surgery.

There is never a bad day or a bad time for Music Education advocacy. Even in Howard County, which has invested heavily in the development of Music programs, we seem to revisit from time to time whether those precious dollars are well spent.

Over the weekend the Howard County Parents for School Music has been mobilizing in response to information that cuts to instrumental music programs at the elementary level may again be back on the table. They are encouraging parents and teachers to come to the BOE work session today at 4 pm to make their voices heard. (Truth in advertising: I assist HCPSM with social media but I’m not a member of the leadership team.)

Here is where things get complicated for me. From what I know, the Board considered the list of possible cuts to various programs at an earlier meeting and decided that music should remain untouched. I, personally, have not heard anything that would change that.

But, others have. And I could be wrong.

And it’s never a bad day or a bad time for Music Education advocacy.

Why? Because music is for everyone. The average kid, the gifted kid, the kid who is struggling. Special needs students, at-risk students. Students for whom playing music is the only reason they come to school. I frankly don’t care if Music raises test scores (it does) or if our ensembles score well at adjudications (they do). I care that music is an opportunity. A lifeline. An investment in years of growth, personal challenge, group interaction, and emotional well-being.

I do wish we all knew for sure whether cuts to music programs are really “back on the table” because, frankly, parents and teachers should not have to be living on high alert, ready to drop everything until the budget is finalized. Budget season is beginning to feel to me like an outsized game show where participants must show up with costumes and signs and noisemakers and hope that the applause meter is in their favor.

That being said, there’s never a bad day or a bad time for Music Education advocacy. If you can’t make the meeting, send the board a note.

A written note, that is. Although, perhaps a little music wouldn’t hurt.

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