Art And Music Education In The Public Schools - What Importance Should Be Given To These Subjects?

During the 1960's and 1970's the majority of public schools in the United States had regular music and art programs as part of their curriculum. Art teachers and music teachers were employed by the schools and children as young as Kindergarten received instruction in both music and art.

Every week, children would have singing lessons, be introduced to instruments, and learned about the great composers. Art instruction included using mediums such as watercolor, charcoal, and tempura paints, as well as art history lessons and exposure to artists from across the centuries. Children were provided with all the materials they would need, and musical instruments were rented to families who did not have their own, for a nominal fee.

At some point in time around the early 1980's, music and art instruction in the public schools came to an end. Budget cuts were blamed and schools were left scrambling to find the money to continue their art and music programs in the schools. Art and music teachers were not rehired and classroom teachers attempted to take over. Much of what they taught was based on what they had learned from the professional art and music teachers in years past. Schools in more affluent area were able to carry on with their programs, in large part because of the donations of time and supplies made by their parents who could financially sustain them.

During the 1990's they was a resurgence of music and art programs due to the efforts of the large artistic and musical communities who saw the need for this type of instruction in the public schools. Movies like Mr. Holland's Opus opened our eyes to the need for these programs by our young people.

Do music and art programs in the schools really help our children learn academic subjects more easily? Music is associated with mathematics, patterns, and memory function. Art stimulates a part of the brain that has been linked to writing proficiency. Music and art programs do add to our children's academic progress and should be a regular part of their school curriculum.

Is Music Education for Children Hard?

The benefits of music education for children are enormous and many parents are aware of this fact. And yet, statistics reveal that only 6 percent of all children really take up an instrument to play. Why is it so? Why don't parents want their kids to develop this wonderful art?

The answer is obvious - many parents seem to think that music education for children is too complex and difficult. Maybe, these parents are totally unaware of how musical notations are taught. Or secondly, it could be that during their own childhood they had bad experiences in music education. Perhaps they were forced by their parents to practice for hours upon hours against their will.

Actually, there can be various reasons why parents are unwilling to provide music education for children. The number one reason is that they fear that their investment will go to waste, as they have heard that many students drop out after just one-and-half to two years of education. It's true that as soon as the training gets a bit tougher, many students quit because of laziness in coping up.

But let me assure you that the complexity of the syllabus is not the real culprit here. There are several reasons why kids find it hard to cope up. A major one is - wrong choice of instrument. I've often seen that parents decide which instrument their child should play.

A long-time friend of mine once said to me that she was always interested in learning the piano, but her parents insisted on a violin for her. The poor girl developed severe pain in her hands because she had to carry the heavy instrument not only during lessons and home practice, but also to and from school.

When I asked her whether she could remember the reason why her parents preferred violin over piano, she answered, "Of course! It was the cost factor. The price of the piano was $250 and tuition fee for piano lessons was $22.5 per month. The price of the violin was just $20 and the tuition fee was just $7.5 per month."

This case happened more than forty years ago, but it is still very much relevant today. The cost factor drives parents to make their own choices of instrument instead of heeding to their child's desire.

Right from the start of music education for children, the parents should pay close attention. They must know what to expect from the music school for their child. Most importantly, they should understand the criteria on which to select the teacher. Recommendations from friends and relatives may seem convenient, but they don't always work.

If the teacher complains that your kid is getting lazy, understand that you didn't select the right teacher. Kids can never become lazy and bored with music lessons if they get constant inspiration from teachers and parents. No inspiration means - no interest. And no interest means - the end of studies.

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