March 1, 2010
by guest author, Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser
Parents: What is Your Goal in Educating Your Children?
We have many straight-A students in our schools who are unable to correlate their knowledge to personal happiness, social contributions, leadership skills, acceptance of others, desire to communicate with others, and the ability to adapt to all facets of society. Shouldn’t our curriculums be designed to help students open their hearts and minds to a life of ongoing learning while clearly demonstrating the benefits of critical thinking, integrity, dignity, compassion, honesty, ethics, responsibility, fairness and creative expression?
We must be cautious not to suggest “music makes you smarter,” but we certainly can point to the overall accomplishments of the students of music and find a similar high level of achievement in both academic and non-academic arenas. This is NOT an accident or a coincidence. Arguably no other discipline in school can better prepare the mind and spirit for the challenges of medical study, law school, classes in engineering, education/teaching, business college, etc.
The Number One thing parents can unite around is the welfare of their child. Yet most parents are not aware of the compelling research about the positive benefits of music learning that has been generated over the last two decades. And, in August 2009, the United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrote a letter to reinforce the value of music education as a core curriculum subject.
Yet, every day, school boards members around the country are struggling to balance shrinking district budgets – and some are proposing to cut music education programs.
Now is the time for parents to step up and show active support their children’s public school music education programs.
A strong parental presence – at school concerts, at school board meetings, in the voting booth – will make all the difference in their child’s world. Parents need to step forward now and say, ‘music education is vitally important to my child’s growth and development - and here’s why.’
The Positive Benefits of Music Education
There’s far more to music education than buying an instrument, taking private lessons, adding band or music class to the school schedule, and rehearsing for a concert. Being a musician maps the human mind for success in all avenues of life. The learned skills needed to excel in music are transferable to every academic subject. Playing a musical instrument creates a multi-dimensional template of quality that is adaptable (and applicable) to every personal and professional challenge.
Through music education, students gain the following benefits:
• Music for the sake of music
There is no substitute or replacement for music making as it relates to the positive growth and development of the human mind, body and spirit. Music introduces students to creative expression, and helps make them literate in a language (music) that is understood, communicated and appreciated by all of mankind. Music is a place for everyone and a fundamental need of life.
• An understanding of QUALITY and the rewards of QUANTITY
Our educational system is heavily focused on assessment/testing, with success or failure of the learning process measured via evaluations. But, numerical outcomes actually tell us very little about the value of class material being taught. Music triggers both the cognitive and affective mind: young artists simultaneously experience facts and figures while developing an appreciation for art. We don’t make music to get to the end of the musical composition: we make music to make music. For students, their personal reward is the intrinsic satisfaction generated as a result of music making. Music teaches an appreciation for QUALITY and an understanding of QUANTITY.
• Behavior based on ETHICS plus the importance of obeying the RULES
Being a band member requires musicians to behave in an ETHICAL fashion. While there are certainly RULES, band program excellence is based on individual self-discipline contributed to achieve group goals. School band helps students to develop ethical habits, qualities of leadership and other good character values.
• Respect for AUTHORITY as opposed to fear of DOMINATION
With a fast-paced schedule of practices and performances, band members learn to respect the power of the authority figure and trust that the director’s decisions are in the group’s best interest. This fosters a mutual understanding of unity and the importance of making personal sacrifices and contributions (time, effort, energy) for a mission. This positive atmosphere opens unlimited possibilities for the group’s synergistic potential.
DOMINATION discourages creative thinking and dictates “what to think,” not “how to think.” It rewards compliance without consideration for the welfare of followers. By contrast, AUTHORITY encourages creative thinking and focuses on the value of cooperation. It teaches students how to “agree to disagree” as they move forward in service of the group’s agenda.
• A working WISDOM as well as a solid transcript of ACHIEVEMENT
Being in the band deals with both ACHIEVEMENT (a measurable set of disciplines and guidelines) and WISDOM (learning that supports a positive, purposeful lifestyle and impacts the welfare of the learner). Music learning reinforces principles and ideals that have a significant and lasting effect on the way we choose to live. It teaches students to work with others, nourishes love of learning, encourages cultural awareness, promotes cooperative flexibility in a communal climate, develops self-discipline, extends understanding, etc, yet all the while it does have standards and it can be assessed. Simply put: band makes better human beings and makes human beings better.
• An ongoing development of INNER PEACE as well as a workable plan for personal SECURITY
Is success measured by what we have or by who we are? Are we training students to focus on high test scores, or teaching students to enjoy a life filled with personal satisfaction? Are students connected to the product (the grade at the end of the semester) or the process (the holistic experience of blending intelligence, aesthetics and emotion)? Education is not just about having the right answers; it’s about using the right answers to meet the challenges of daily living.
Music education offers a new paradigm of learning: it is the reason, the reward, the substance and the payoff. We acquire and develop a desire to express our inner thoughts and feelings through music. We become artists and enjoy the highest form of personal satisfaction, creative expression, the fundamental component of self-satisfaction.
What’s the most convincing recruitment information available to bring students into the rehearsal rooms? MUSIC CREATES SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE! The “learned outcome” of music study is a certain success blueprint. What parent could say NO once they understand the immeasurable value of music study?
-- Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser is a well-known teacher, clinician, author, composer, conductor and consultant. This article is excerpted from his book, “Teaching Music Through Performance in Band, Volume V: Why Music? Why Band?” Copyright © 2009 by GIA Publications, Inc. Reprinted with permission. www.giamusic.com