Music is a Universal Language
Last week while cruising through my Facebook feed I was stopped dead in my tracks. I’m not sure if it was because the video post was so ‘bright’ on a gloomy Sunday afternoon, or if was just so perfect, overwhelming, and joyful, no matter what the day, time or weather.
It was the post. A vocal flash mob in a college cafeteria. Watch it and see a quiet, any old day, in the cafeteria transformed by music. And wow what music. As you watch it you can see that every person in the cafeteria that day is transformed. As the music gains volume and tempo, the room is electrified, energized and filled with joy and that joy brings possibility. As an online viewer – I had that same experience of joy and possibility. It’s definitely ‘multiple view’ worthy.
The music industry is a $47.5 billion industry worldwide and gross revenue in the U.S. is more than $16 billion. Clearly it’s ripe with employment possibility. So why isn’t it part of a school’s core academic curriculum?
The benefits of music education are endless. Schools that have music education programs have an attendance rate of 93.3% and graduation rate of 90.2% compared to 84.9% and 72.9%, respectively, in schools without music programs. High school music students have been shown to hold higher grade point averages (GPA) than non-musicians in the same school. Music majors are the most likely group of college grads to be admitted to medical school and scored the highest reading scores among all majors including English, biology, chemistry and math (Lewis Thomas, Case for Music in the Schools, Phi Delta Kappa).
It doesn’t have to be exclusively in music class either. Students who were exposed to music-based lessons scored a full 100% higher on fractions tests than those who learned in the conventional manner as reported by neurological research and music education statistics. And, according to the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, the schools that produced the highest academic achievement in the United States today are spending 20-30% of the day on the arts, with special emphasis on music.
The good news is that the Every Child Achieves Act (ESSA) was signed into law in December of 2015 and it contains numerous references to a “well-rounded” education. While arts and music are mentioned in the list of subjects considered part of a “well-rounded” education, the requirements are not explicit and are left up to states and local governments. This is definitely a step in the right direction but we all have to continue the fight to support arts education in our schools.