Another important facet of Music Education is the Where? Where in America should we be teaching our children music, who deserves it, and who needs it? In my opinion, many middle class-affluent school programs see music as a luxury, not a privilege. All schools should have a sound music and arts curriculum, but it should not be taken for granted. The more affluent schools usually don't have to worry about the arts funding being cut, compared to those in struggling neighborhoods. I feel very strongly that it is the lower socioeconomic groups and urban/impoverished schools that need music programs the most.
Music programs, from general music classes to after school programs, offer students in low-income areas opportunities and alternatives that may benefit their lives. Joining an ensemble will give them more reason to come to school, practicing/learning an instrument will keep them busy and out of trouble (for the most part), and performances can give them a sense of pride and self-esteem they might otherwise never acquire. Even basic music classes lay the groundwork for students to build off of and create their own garage bands, solo recordings, or music production projects. It may inspire them to become more involved in community groups as well, such as church choirs or community orchestras.
There is a great deal of research out there that proves that joining a music program will improve their academic life as well. According to a NAfME article:
"Students in high-quality school music programs score higher on
standardized tests compared to students in schools with deficient music
education programs, regardless of the socioeconomic level of the school
or school district."
– NAfME Journal of Research in Music Education, Winter 2006, vol. 54, No. 4, pgs. 293- 307
Another report shows how keeping students occupied with music, practicing, and performing, can keep them off of the streets and away from harmful substances;
"Secondary students who participated in band or orchestra reported the
lowest lifetime and current use of all substances (alcohol, tobacco,
– Texas Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse Report. Reported in Houston Chronicle, January 1998
Not only will this change the students life, but music programs can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on the community. "Lauren Kapalka Richerme, a doctoral student in music education at
Arizona State University, published an important piece, “Apparently, We
Disappeared,” in the September 2011 Music Educators Journal. She
emphasizes the value of sharing ideas within the broader community that
lead to action. Richerme states: “Music educators must alter their
practices by implementing the ideas generated from their dialogue with
various constituencies. Words are not enough; we must change our actions
as a result of these exchanges. Combining advocacy with exchanges
allows music educators to promote and improve their programs and build a
better relationship with their communities.” (http://majoringinmusic.com/ ,2/3/13)
Advocacy should be a huge part of our jobs as music educators. It will help us build successful programs that reach out to the people who need it most, and positively impact the lives of everyone involved.
"When presented with the many and manifest benefits of music
education, officials at all levels should universally support a full,
balanced, sequential course of music instruction taught by qualified
teachers. And every student will have an education in the arts."
- National Association for Music Education