In Brian Picente’s essay “Music Education in Public Schools,” he discusses the controversy surrounding whether or not music programs should remain in public schools, and if so, then it is up to music teachers to educate the public of the importance that students have the opportunity to participate in such programs–that music teachers must advocate that the benefits students can gain from including music in their education goes beyond learning how to play an instrument or play a tune.
Picente’s thesis is that to remove music education in public schools, would be detrimental in the decline of students overall education, because music adds a balance in a student’s curriculum for it provides them with a fun outlet to cultivate a new skill that in turn leads to other good habits. Picente uses the research of studies that promote music education as a catalyst in students that excel academically more so than students who are not involved in music. Picente writes, “The list of these studies can go on and on proving the different effects music has on academics, however one article sums up music’s academic importance by saying that “Music enhances the process of learning. The systems it nourishes, which includes our integrated sensory, attention, cognitive, emotional, and motor capacities, are shown to be the driving forces behind all other learning”(qtd. in Konrad 5).
Picente also uses other subtopics to further prove his thesis. One vital subtopic is that student involvement and enrollment are necessary for music department to even be available to teach students the skill of learning to play an instrument/sing, read music, etc. so that they are aided to also perform well academically. Students must want to learn about music. They must sign up for music classes, otherwise band, chorus, and other music programs will not be offered. “If there was not music in schools, there would be virtually be no chance for the subject to rebound since student would not be exposed to music” (Picente 62).
Another important subtopic is that music teachers must make the whole process of learning about music fun. “Many students go to music class wanting a fun experience rather than listening to seemingly boring classical and baroque music” (67-68). “Most students will not go pick an instrument because it has academic benefits. They learn an instrument to have fun” (65).
These simply yet logical sentences make me think about music’s role in my public education. I think of my music teacher in Elementary school, her name was Mrs. Abbattista, or Mrs. A as her students called her. She taught a music class to practically all grades, but was also head of Vocal music.And she made music of all kinds interesting. She had many colorful posters on her wall with artists and composers from different time periods and genres. I can remember that one day in class in fourth grade, we were listening to music, but I distinctly remember it was an Irish piece with flutes in it. During that class, I was inspired to learn how to play the flute. I went on to play the flute for nine years. From this I gained many friendships in fellow classmates that were also in Symphonic Band, Jazz Band, and Marching Band. I even became section leader of the flutes in Marching Band for several years and won an award for Most Valued Player of the entire Marching Band. (NO I’m NOT, trying to toot my own horn, however I am trying to make the point that being involved in music does have a positive impact on a student.) The best example is my high school instrumental teacher, Mr. Farrell. It is because of his guidance that I strove for excellence, in my self, in each band I was a member of, and he was the person that encouraged me to take on the responsibility of section leader. His guidance made me strive to be a better person, as a flautist, (yes that is how it is spelled), as student, and as a friend.
I received guidance from Mr. Farrell, but I owe my initial introduction to music to Mrs. A. Mrs. A made learning about music engaging, informative, and above all fun; it is for this reason that students kept joining chorus, kept enjoying music class, and learning from such an excellent educator.
If all students were as fortunate as I was, to have teachers like Mrs. Abbattista and Mr. Farrell that made learning about music the highlight of every student’s day, music education would never be a question in public schools–music courses would be a requirement.