Why Should Music Be Taught in Schools

I found this in a google search and thought it was worthwhile, but linking to it didn't work, so I have pasted it here in full, with the original link. http://www4.nau.edu/hornstudio/Caitlin's%20Paper.doc
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Caitlin Leech
ENG 205
Argument Paper

Music Programs: The Newest Endangered Species

            Recently, music programs have begun to be cut from school districts all across the country due to budget cuts made by the government, which results in insufficient funding for schools. These programs are the ones that are chosen to be let go from the schools because teachers and administrators feel academics are more important. Perhaps music is not more important than other academics, but it is at least equally important. As I will prove later on in this paper through research done by myself and other credible sources, music programs promote leadership, responsibility, time management, friendship and a drive to do better not only in the music classes, but in school in general. There are also many other immeasurable benefits that are provided by music programs, and they will be shown through personal accounts and essays written by the music students themselves. Music programs are an asset to any school and cutting these programs in junior high and high schools deprives and adversely affects those students who missed out on the chance to participate in the programs.
            Many students who participate in music programs do better in school. “It is accurately reported that music students, as a group, have higher than average I.Q. and S.A.T. scores” (Stewart 4). It has also been discovered that “students in high-quality music education programs score higher on standardized tests compared to students in schools with deficient music education programs” as shown in a study done in 2007 by Christopher Johnson, a member of the National Association for Music Education and a professor of music education (Test Scores). On the elementary school level, this study found that “students in top quality music programs scored 22% better in English and 20% better in mathematics than students in deficient music programs” (Test Scores). Another part of the study that focused on middle school students found that those students “in top quality instrumental programs scored 17% higher in mathematics than children who did not participate in music” (Test Scores). This study proves that there is a positive correlation between quality music instruction and academic performance. Another study that was conducted in 2006, showed that there is also a relationship between students in music programs and graduation and attendance rates. “Students that have music programs have significantly higher graduation rates than do those without programs (90.2% as compared to 72.9%). Schools that have music programs have significantly higher attendance rates that do those without programs (93.3% as compared to 84.9%)” (Graduation). These different relationships show the positive effects that music programs have on the students that attend the schools lucky enough to still retain and offer these programs.
            There are other advantages to music programs than just the test scores. A study published in 2007 focused on students, who were and were not enrolled in music programs, and their “views on the role of music in identity formation, the musical and nonmusical benefits for adolescents of their engagement with music, the curricular content of secondary music programs, and the qualities of music teachers in facilitating music-learning experiences in middle and high school classes” (Campbell, Connell, Beegle, 2007). The students were asked to write essays, reflections and statements, and these were used to determine the results of this study. With regards to music-specific benefits, students who responded said that music benefited them in everything from learning the basics so they could perform better in the future, “a means of understand civilizations and societies” and some “expressed their sense of music as a culture, and as a means of knowing their own and other cultural history and beliefs” (Campbell, Connell, Beegle, 2007). One student used this reasoning to protest the elimination of music from the schools; “If you look at history, music has been used in every generation. How could anyone take away something that has been a part of our country for so long?” (Campbell, Connell, Beegle, 2007). The researchers found that almost two out of every three responses had some reference to how music affected their lives in an emotional way. Some students found music to be a “therapeutic tool”, “a release from the academic and social pressures of middle and high school life”, and a way “to control negative emotions, in particular anger” (Campbell, Connell, Beegle, 2007). In another part of the study, “music was frequently described as a force for building one’s character, and many students expressed their belief that music was capable of directing them in shaping their broader sense of self, who they were becoming, and how they might succeed in the world. The respondents highlighted confidence, responsibility, compassion, pride, patience, and respect as aspects of their character they feel they owe, at least in part, to music” (Campbell, Connell, Beegle, 2007). The final aspect of music that was heavily mentioned in the responses was that of the social benefits the students received. There were references to how music classes created new friendships and a way to meet new people. “Quite often, the imagery of the family was chosen to illustrate the feelings of belonging and security they had experienced as a result of participating in musical groups at their school” (Campbell, Connell, Beegle, 2007). In a much darker way, “students spoke of music’s social benefits in relation to its function as a distraction from involvement in spurious activity such as drugs, alcohol, smoking (cigarettes), gang life, and promiscuous sex- in their own lives or in the lives of adolescents in general. Some reference was also made to music’s capacity to dissuade individuals from suicidal behaviors, if only by giving singers and players purpose in their young lives” (Campbell, Connell, Beegle, 2007). These effects that music have, both meaningful and fleeting all play important roles in determining the behaviors, activities and outlooks that students have on the world in general and towards themselves. As found by this study, “music is a common need, a constant presence, and a universal behavior to engage as performers, listeners, composers and songwriters” (Campbell, Connell, Beegle, 2007).
            There have already been incidents of schools cutting music programs, such as in Fresno Unified School District in Fresno, California. “The district proposed cutting elementary music”, but was met with a lot of opposition from the students and parents (Music Education Cuts). People are going to great lengths to ensure that music remains in the schools, for example, “in mid-February 2,000 students, teachers and parents traveled by bus to the Missouri state capital, Jefferson City, to tell lawmakers to make school funding a top priority” (Music Education Cuts). Some schools are proposing different ways to deal with the budget cuts, such as the Salem-Keizer School Board in Salem, Oregon, who “proposed that the schools make concerts and competitions optional and charge students who wanted to perform” (Music Education Cuts). This was met by protests by teachers, students and the students’ parents. “Mary Lou Boderman, band director at South Salem High School, said parents and the community pay for about 70 percent of the band program” (Music Education Cuts). If this is what is already asked of the students who just want to participate in music programs, how much further will it go before the programs are paid for in full by only those who want them? In the meantime, other activities, such as the sports in schools, are still paid for mostly by the school and district budgets.
            There are not very many solutions to this growing problem. To ask schools to rewrite their budgets to keep music programs in their schools may not be entirely possible, and as seen earlier, proposing more fees to participate in music programs is not well-received by either parents or students. This issue cannot be resolved just with the separate school districts all across the country, but this must be addressed nationally. As a peace offering in the meantime, perhaps the schools can create fundraising events to help those students who must pay a fee to participate in music programs, but this would only sever as a temporary measure.
            As individuals, or even as districts, there is very little that can be done to fix this prominent problem. The government that created these insufficient budgets, as with the No Child Left Behind Act, must be held responsible for the effects that their actions have caused. They are the ones with the authority to right their wrongs, but it is only with the persuasion and ambition of the people that they will be forced to act, and action is needed before music programs everywhere are removed from the schools where they are desired by the teachers, parents and, most importantly, the students.

Works Cited
Battling Music Education Cuts. Teaching Music. Vol. 11, Issue 5. April 2004.
Beegle, Amy; Campbell, Patricia Shehan; Connell, Claire. “Adolescents’ Expressed Meanings of Music In and Out of School.” Journal of Research in Music Education. Vol. 55, Issue 3. Fall 2007.
Principals Say Music Programs Affect Graduation. Teaching Music. Vol. 14, Issue 2. October 2006.
Stewart, Paul. The True Intrinsic Value of Music. American Music Teacher. Vol. 56, Issue 5. April/May 2007. p 4-5.
Study Finds Link Between Quality Music Programs, Test Scores. Teaching Music. Vol. 15, Issue 5. October 2007.

Annotated Bibliography
Battling Music Education Cuts
This source is focusing on the budget cuts that are affecting schools all across the nation. The program that was going to be cut in this school was the music program, and was met with a lot of antagonism, because the parents believe that music is important to their children.
            I’ll use this to show that the cutting of music programs is not just offending to the music community, but to the entire community. It will also show that this problem is present now and cannot be ignored or pushed under the rug.

“Adolescents’ Expressed Meanings of Music In and Out of School.”
            This source is useful because it talks about the importance of music to the students, which are the main focus of my paper. It takes personal accounts, such as essays, statements and reflections, and combines them into one study which will be used in order to determine how music affects students in (a) identity formation in and through music, (b) emotional benefits, (c) music’s life benefits, including character –building and life skills, (d) social benefits, and (e) positive and negative impressions of the school music programs and their teachers.
            I’ll use this source to support my argument from an emotional and immeasurable standpoint, seeing as how I have statistics already.

Principals Say Music Programs Affect Graduation
            A study performed by MENC, NAMM and AMCHI members. This shows the measurable effect that music programs have on students with regard to their graduation and attendance rates when compared to schools without those programs.
            I’ll use this to prove that music has a significant effect upon the students who attend and participate in the programs.

The True Intrinsic Value of Music
            This source will be used to show the non-musical effects that music and music programs have, such as music students having higher I.Q. and S.A.T. scores than students who are not involved in music. He says that although it may not be music itself that cause this trend, but that music is still essential to everyone.
            I’ll use this to show that although some people disagree with the statistical benefits that music is reported to have, they still believe that music has other worthwhile intrinsic values for everyone.

Study Finds Link Between Quality Music Programs, Test Scores
            A study performed by MENC members. This shows the measurable effect that music programs have on students with regard to standardized test scores when to compared to students who do not participate in music programs, or are in deficient music programs. This again will show the importance of music in a quantifiable way.


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