Music Mentors

Mar 24 2008

2008 TED Prize winner and renowned author, Dave Eggers has found a way to make a difference for kids in public schools. His 826 Valencia tutoring center has inspired others around the world to open their own volunteer-driven, creative writing labs.

Watching this clip, I couldn’t help but think this same volunteer and mentoring approach can be applied to public school music programs in need of advocacy and support. If your local school music programs are struggling and you’d like to find a way to help, this video clip is sure to inspire some exciting ideas.

Please share your thoughts on how this approach could work for music and the arts.

Not on the Test!

Mar 14 2008

For students and parents who may be stressed out over testing, here’s a lullaby for the times. Grammy Award-winning children’s artist Tom Chapin offers the “Not on the Test” song and video to raise awareness about the importance of music education in all classrooms and to express concern about what is missing from American public education. “Not on the Test,” with music and lyrics by Chapin and his long-time collaborator John Forster, and produced by PST Records, can be downloaded at www.notonthetest.com.

Additional information and advocacy links can be found here.

A new Harris Interactive executive omnibus poll of senior business leaders shows a positive association between music education with career advancement. Overall, nearly three-quarters of executives (73 percent) were involved in some type of music program while in school.

The October 2007 Harris Poll that I referenced in my previous post showed music education at an early age greatly increases the likelihood that a child will grow up to seek higher education and ultimately earn a higher salary. This new poll, looking specifically at executives in top companies across the nation, confirms the October poll findings demonstrating music education provides skills and attributes that can lead to success in careers later in life.

Seventy-two percent of executives with music education feel music education equips people to be better team players in their careers and 71 percent feel music education provides you with a disciplined approach to problem solving.

Dr. Elliot W. Eisner of Stanford University reports the arts have cognitive effects, aiding in the preparation for entry into the workforce of the 21st century. Specifically, he cites the following key competencies as being developed through arts education: perception of relationships, skills in finding multiple solutions to problems; attention to nuance; adaptability; decision making skills; and visualization of goals and outcomes.

As stated in my “Do We Really Need a Reason” post, and reinforced by reader’s comments, I celebrate music making for very different reasons than the findings stated in these two Harris Polls. However, in this era of arts program budget cuts it’s good to have more advocacy tools, such these studies, to fight for what we know is important to educating the whole child… arts education. And, if we need it, thanks to this most recent study, we have “yet another reason.”

A new Harris Interactive executive omnibus poll of senior business leaders shows a positive association between music education with career advancement. Overall, nearly three-quarters of executives (73 percent) were involved in some type of music program while in school.

The October 2007 Harris Poll that I referenced in my previous post showed music education at an early age greatly increases the likelihood that a child will grow up to seek higher education and ultimately earn a higher salary. This new poll, looking specifically at executives in top companies across the nation, confirms the October poll findings demonstrating music education provides skills and attributes that can lead to success in careers later in life.

Seventy-two percent of executives with music education feel music education equips people to be better team players in their careers and 71 percent feel music education provides you with a disciplined approach to problem solving.

Dr. Elliot W. Eisner of Stanford University reports the arts have cognitive effects, aiding in the preparation for entry into the workforce of the 21st century. Specifically, he cites the following key competencies as being developed through arts education: perception of relationships, skills in finding multiple solutions to problems; attention to nuance; adaptability; decision making skills; and visualization of goals and outcomes.

As stated in my “Do We Really Need a Reason” post, and reinforced by reader’s comments, I celebrate music making for very different reasons than the findings stated in these two Harris Polls. However, in this era of arts program budget cuts it’s good to have more advocacy tools, such these studies, to fight for what we know is important to educating the whole child… arts education. And, if we need it, thanks to this most recent study, we have “yet another reason.”

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John J. Mahlmann, executive director of the National Association for Music Education, was recently quoted in the Washington Post as saying he is tired of having to defend the importance of music education. He often finds it necessary to rattle off statistics about how music improves the lives of people who study it. The sheer joy of playing and understanding music isn’t enough, he said.

So he has an unorthodox response to educators: “Why is math so high on the priority list?”

His answer: “Because we can test for it.”

The thing people forget, he said, is that musicians are assessed every time they play an instrument. “If you went to a concert and they only played 80 percent of the notes correctly, you wouldn’t like it,” he said. “Musicians strive for perfection. Lots of people don’t mind 80 percent on a math quiz.”

Here are some more “reasons” why music education matters, as collected and presented by Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post.

1. Schools with music programs have graduation rates of 90.2 percent, as compared with a 72.9 percent rate for schools without music education, according to a 2006 Harris Interactive poll of high school principals funded by the National Association for Music Education and International Music Products Association (NAMM). The poll also found that schools with music programs have attendance rates of 93.3 percent, compared with 84.9 percent for those that don’t.

2. In 2006, SAT takers with course work or experience in music performance scored 57 points higher on the verbal portion of the college entrance exam and 43 points higher on the math portion than did students with no such experience in the arts. Scores of those with course work in music appreciation were 62 points higher on the verbal and 41 points higher on the math, according to the College Board’s 2006 Profile of College-Bound Seniors National Report.

3. A November 2007 Harris poll found that 86 percent of college graduates had some music education when they were in school, compared with 65 percent for those who had not completed or completed only high school. Eighty-three percent of people earning $150,000 or more had a music education, the poll found.

For more “reasons,” there are many helpful resources such as musicforall.org, amc-music.com/ and schoolmusicmatters.com.

To me, the sheer joy of music making, for people from 0 to 100+, is reason enough! The rest is gravy!