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Monday, March 16, 2015

Why cut music programs that help children with their learning?

"In the past few years, the state of Maine has been struggling to sustain music programs in schools." summarizes Emily Dunlap, an eighth-grader at Leonard Middle School in Old Town.

Photo: Bangor Daily News

Some superintendents and school boards cut music programs because some schools have weak programs, along with a lack of support from parents, which makes music an easy target, especially when budgets are tight.

Unfortunately, much of society is unaware of just how beneficial music is to every student in the program, both socially and developmentally. I have seen involvement in music benefit children as long as I remember — not just the musically gifted children, but those on the edge of dropping out of school or getting into the wrong crowd.

Music has kept many children focused and allowed them to be part of something they could be successful at and of which they could be proud. Aside from the cognitive development, fine motor skills, organizational skills, personal responsibility, time management skills and self-discipline associated with musical involvement, music offers something that carries through life. No matter what career path students choose, music will always be there, and the relationships and friendships students enjoy throughout the years are priceless.

In many cases in Maine, the elementary music program is exploratory and meets for about 30 minutes per week. Because it is not English, math or science — which lawmakers have deemed the most important — it is easy to cut out. However, we know that is shortsighted, as educational research supports music in schools.

In performance groups, if not many students are being served or if the quality of performance is lacking, music becomes a target. This is too bad, because music is very useful if you really think about it. In fact, students who participate in music often score higher on standardized tests, are more connected to their school — which has been proven to improve students’ achievement — and those involved in music are generally happier and less stressed. Plus, children with learning disabilities or dyslexia, who tend to lose focus with more noise, could benefit greatly from music lessons.

Source: Bangor Daily News