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Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013
Please don't stop the musicPosted Monday, June 15, 2009, at 5:03 PM
Growing up in Branson, I certainly had a unique music education experience. My band director had formerly worked for Shoji Tabuchi, and he was able to get many thousands of dollars in donations from the entertainer that helped our program buy new instruments, uniforms, etc. We were very lucky that we didn't have to sell popcorn or candy bars or hold car washes and bake sales like students from other schools did to raise money -- money to supplement the often insufficient funds provided by school districts.
A recent New York Times article I read says that U.S. eighth-grade students are receiving a "mediocre" education in music and other fine arts; I find this terribly sad. In part, this might be due to budget cuts, but perhaps its also because of a prevalent attitude that the arts play a lesser role in a child's education.
I think it is important to remember that, although music and art are not part of the "three Rs," they are more than extra-curricular activities. Studying music helps with spatial reasoning and other brain functions. Listening to music can also increase concentration, and the subject itself is inherently math-based. More generally, the arts of all kinds are especially effective at engaging troubled youth, as well as individuals with disabilities, which is why UMKC and other schools now have music and art therapy professional programs.
For me, band and colorguard (flag corps) had a greater effect on my non-academic school experience. I already excelled academically, but music helped to bring me out of my shell of shyness and insecurity. I gained confidence and a strong network of friends, several of whom I am still close to today.
I would never suggest that fine arts funding be more of a priority than core subjects. Of course, it is more important to be able to read words than half notes. But, I also know that, though I haven't used it in many years, I still remember the quadratic formula I learned in eighth grade algebra because we were taught to sing it to "Pop Goes the Weasel."
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Sydney is a former staff writer for the Democrat-News. She received degrees from University of Missouri in both music and magazine journalism. She played oboe with the Marshall Philharmonic Orchestra and the Marshall Municipal Band while she was in Marshall.