Music – Luxury or Nurture?


Luxury or Nurture?

Originally uploaded by mtsofan
One of my flickr contacts John raises and interesting question about music in school:

I remember making an appointment with the vice president of the college I attended. The topic was the music program. Though I cannot recall the exact reason for our desire to challenge him, the statement he uttered during our meeting is clear in my memory. He had made a decision based on his opinion that music is a “luxury” when it comes to an academic curriculum.

In this photo, a teacher, hired specifically to give our pre-school children early experience in music, explains how a drum works. Why, for example, it’s useful to have air beneath the head.

Within a half-hour session, the kids also sang, used hand movements, learned dynamics (loud and soft voices), and even used body movement.

Studies have shown that music and dancing can enhance a person’s performance in math. From my perspective, it can help people to think more creatively.

Is music really a luxury?

The continuing conversation below the photo on Flickr makes it clear that most people value music in school as a basic human need. John is in the US but in the UK schools also struggle to fit music into an already packed school day.

In many schools there are no music specialists, sometimes not even someone to play the piano for singing. Teachers in primary used to be expected to play a musical instrument when they applied for training. It’s one of the reasons I opted to work with older children 🙂 Now with the loss of older teachers and lack of music specialists many teachers dread music sessions or hand them over to teaching assistants (often with even less training in music!) to cover in PPA time.
In my last school we were lucky enough to have a singing teacher who came in to run “Sing your socks off” sessions but they were after school. Children mostly love to sing and no one can seriously believe that it isn’t good for them to do so. So what should we be doing about it?
Music services are under constant threat of cuts, yet the government makes pledges about children having access to music tuition.
It seems to come down to money and time, as usual.

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