Music is on the decline here in the United States. Humanity has a natural disposition to like music; it’s incredibly rare that someone just flat out doesn’t like music. So with music being such an important part of nearly every culture, why are we teaching it less in public schools?
According to the Huffington Post, arts programs, specifically music programs, have been declining since 1980. There isn’t enough school funding. We’ve all heard of the nation’s shortages in education funding. A part of delegating the meager funding schools have considers what programs are more valued than others.
So what gets funding instead of music? It’s typically sports. At any level, sports usually produce based on what you put into them. For instance, many young students base where they want to go to school based on the quality of the athletic programs there. This is more of a factor in college, but it happens in high school too. No one wants to play for a school that doesn’t put money into it’s athletics. With most sports being competitive by their very nature, schools must financially compete with others in order to stay relevant. Music programs have competitions, but to put it frankly, most schools don’t care about the prestige of the music program.
I am a strong supporter of music programs, but I am not disillusioned to its high cost. Instruments are incredibly expensive, especially if they’re high quality and brand new. My trombone I bought for ETSU cost over $1,500, and that is about average for instruments unless they opt to go used or cheap, which obviously creates other problems for the musician. Public high school music performances, shows and competitions don’t always draw the largest crowds either.
Not to say there aren’t public schools who don’t fund the music program. Plenty do and are recognized for their contribution to the arts. But as it stands, sports are considered the face of most public schools.
Why should we care about this? Well, students can benefit significantly from participating in music programs. Band and choir are valuable social experiences. Besides being a strong community, music has been proven to be highly beneficial for one’s mental well being, including an expansion of one’s memory and improvement in coordination. Marching band also has the advantage of providing physical activity as well without the inherent risks of contact sports.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with sports. I am a huge football fan (go Titans), played soccer for seven years, and I played varsity tennis in high school. However, athletics should not take away from the arts. Music education is another talent and skill that can take a student far into their hobby or even potential career.
While I don’t know of a perfect solution, I know that music must always be involved in public schools. Perhaps when the nation can figure out how to better fund education programs, they could consider music education as an integral part of the learning experience. Equal opportunity demands equal funding.