DEFUNDING MUSIC IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Marshall Frank: Music programs essential for student development

Keep essential programs in school;

Marshall Frank

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

School boards around the state may have to cut many positions in the ensuing years, including hundreds of elementary art and music teachers, which causes my heart to skip a beat. The long-range consequences could be more far-reaching than we imagine.

Few subjects are more important in school curriculums than music and art, particularly music. As president of the Creative Arts Foundation of Brevard, a nonprofit, I have been privileged to interact with many hundreds of talented youngsters in the last seven years who are immersed in superior music programs available in this region. These youngsters thrive on musical excellence, bringing harmony and love to their lives among friends and family.

When we hold annual music competitions, we are witness to the wonders of music and how well-grounded kids are who study instruments, act and sing in their school programs and thrive on music in general.

It all begins in the elementary grades. Much the same as sports programs, music keeps kids from the streets, from wandering into trouble, from being vulnerable to negative influences because it gives them identity and focus. Studies have shown that music helps develop memory, perception, language, oral and reading skills, not to mention self-esteem and purpose.

Some studies have shown that music actually contributes toward elevations in IQ. Music provides an essential element in psychological growth for many youngsters, creating a base for learning in other subjects.

I grew up and later spent 30 years as a cop in Miami. I’ve also been an active father. I can say with some authority that the outstanding school curriculums in this part of Florida are, for now, more superior and effective for developing well-rounded kids than the school systems in southeast Florida, where budget shortfalls put music and art on the chopping blocks. School music programs also help to support many music stores in the area.

It all begins in the early ages. Eliminating elementary school music would have a domino effect. Take away music in elementary schools it will be tougher to sell kids on music as they get older and more susceptible to peer influences.

Though music and art may not be as essential as core subjects, they are certainly more useful to students than needless requirements, such as algebra. I started learning music at age 6. It was an everyday part of my growth experience. I’m still playing violin to this day.

I struggled with, and nearly flunked algebra in the seventh grade, never to use it in my entire life. Contrarily, music often becomes a forever element of a life span.

Eliminating hundreds of music and art teachers in regional schools is beyond drastic. The ultimate consequences would be one step closer to a Miami syndrome, where controlling behavior in schools trumps the learning process. It may seem less needed, but it is just as important as learning to count, read and spell.

Let music programs continue at the earliest of ages. School boards should find other less essential places to cut costs.

Marshall Frank is an author and retired South Florida police detective who lives in Melbourne. Online: MarshallFrank.com.