Why Music Is An Essential Class in Elementary School


As a music educator, I've always seen the value of music for elementary age students (and really any age) for a variety of reasons.  It baffles me when school districts cut music programs!  And here are just a few reasons why:

1.  Music education promotes teamwork and cooperation.  And unlike recess time, when a student may be off to the side because they have struggles socially, music includes ALL students.  I once had a special needs student who I thought was barely aware of anything going on in my classroom.  The very last day of the year, he verbalized that he wanted to play a certain game (the verbal part was a big deal for him!).  Not only did we play the game, but he led it.  The look on his face was priceless. 

2.  Music education develops a different part of the brain than students use during their "core" classes.  Some students who cannot process math or reading in the typical mediums, can learn through music.  Which also leads me to the fact that . . .

3.  Music classes provide self-confidence for students who are gifted in music (many of whom may struggle in other areas).  I have had friends tell me they only showed up for high school because they liked choir, otherwise they may have never graduated!  And that's coming from people who didn't go on to do anything in music for their profession.

4.  Musical movement gives students a positive way to get their wiggles out!  And they may even learn something from all of that movement we do . . .

5.  Children can create beautiful music!  It also gives them an appreciation for music, and we need aesthetic appreciation and creativity in our culture! 

6.  Music teaches children about our culture and heritage.  I require all of my students to memorize the National Anthem in 4th grade.  Where else is someone going to take the time to make sure they actually know they words and what they song is about?  Also, you should see the smiles on the faces of my students when they finally "get" a folk dance they are doing.  You would think they just won a video game.  But wait, they aren't hooked up to a tv or phone, they are engaging with other human beings!! 

7.  Play is essential to the development of children's brains.   Want some more proof that this is true?   One study found that “preschool children taught with games and songs showed an IQ advantage for 10 to 20 points over those without the songs, and at age 15 had higher reading and math scores” (Harvey, 1997). (http://www.childrensmusicworkshop.com/advocacy/elementarymusic.html)  Which leads me to my next point...

8.  Music increases test scores because it increases learning.  And since our schools are so concerned with test scores right now, shouldn't music be essential to them?

9.  Music is unifying.  I have not met a single person who absolutely hates all music ever created.  This can rarely be said about other topics such as games, sports, fashion, etc. 

10.  Music is fun.  And beautiful.  And inspiring.  And something so unique from everything else in the world.  It moves us, makes us dance, cry, remember, celebrate, worship, hold loved ones close, helps babies fall asleep.  Music is . . . well, music.  And that alone is powerful. 

Advocate for your school's music program.  Your students deserve it!

“It's [music education] terribly important, extremely important -- because when you are a child, you are in a receptive age ... In high schools, public schools -- that's where they must have the best influence, the first influence, which will go through their whole life.”
- Eugene Ormandy – conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra

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