time to change the way we view music and the arts

Take Note: Music Can’t Exist Without Players

My topic of choice was decided from two fold reasoning:

Personal events that have served as a reminder not to take things for granted


The awareness that today marks the start of “Music in Our Schools Month”  across the United States. (Created by The National Association for Music Education –“NAfME“)

Music, concerts, attractive people who play instruments and make others scream, cry or swoon in excitement… it would be absolutely insane to try and deny that all these things exist in the world as we know it on a regular, unavoidable basis. Setting aside for a moment, the focus on shifting paradigms and methodologies for giving the public access, (a la download vs. physical, digital vs. analog,) music is everywhere. Whether we choose to embrace it or not, sound is inherently attached to physical existence. It’s the process of sound acknowledgement and accumulated appreciation that separates sound as noise against what people designate as music.

Yet, let’s pause for a moment and think about what the U.S. has felt compelled to develop and grow over the years with “Music in Our Schools.” The need for curriculums and the growing pool of competing subject areas have put this inherent phenomenon at ever-stiffening odds with other such inherent things as itself. The world and its processes, artistic and scientific, began and maintained function long before dedicated humans studied, labeled and isolated any number of them. This is how subject wars can form: Despite being equally inherent, the priorities of knowledgeable humans is what determines importance and majority vs. minority attention to any one field.

If this is how we accept things though, that educators have to find “special times” wherein they can highlight the field most important to them in a never ending battle for attention, are we not losing sight of the most crucial and equalizing point amidst all of education to begin with?


I realize there are rules set, parameters created and standards developed that serve students well (most of the time) and I’m in no way posing a plan to re-make the entire world’s educational system as we know it. However, sometimes, I think in getting caught up among regulations and competition and occasional spite for our colleagues of academia, there is loss of the greater good in learning. Months of the year that have things attached to them are usually for the purpose of awareness. Go back to what I said in the beginning though: It is undeniable that we are aware of music every single day.

  • You get in your car and turn on the radio; whether traditional or satellite on-demand.
  • Your office elevator has somewhat bland but ever playing music while you travel to your floor.
  • The strip mall where you often have lunch with co-workers plays music as you window browse.
  • Bars and restaurants blast popular hits and feature cover bands.
  • Television shows and every single commercial.

Just a few examples –and those kinds of experiences permeate many people’s days on and on I’m sure. Not to mention a myriad of other ways I haven’t listed. So is fundamental awareness really what it’s still about with “Music in Our Schools?” I’d venture to say basic awareness falls secondary to appreciation at this point.

Is it fair though, to say that such a time slot designation can become lip-service if it’s supposed to be about appreciation? Music is everywhere but we expect it. When was the last time you turned on your radio or logged into iTunes and considered nothing might be there? Regardless of whether you are a hardcore music teacher or just a guy who uses the local bar cover band as a recreational way to relax after a hard day at the office, and whether you as a parent might think garage rock bands are a waste of time that don’t constitute a “real job,” the garage jamming teen and the college certified educator both had to do the same thing. They had to learn something new. How they go about it might be different and what their end objectives are might be different but both people can say they have more knowledge than they did before.

Typically I’m all about informing people through very carefully articulated opinions and thorough research. Perhaps that’s part of society’s problem though. Such a level of micro-analyzation, akin to impressionism and pointilism, hinders upon the big picture. Perhaps once in a while it’s not merely okay, but necessary to state broad truths for the sake of general perspective. In this case, instead of trying to win people over on music, or disseminating the reasons its needed/more important than given credit for, let’s support music in our schools because it’s something else kids can learn. Learning itself should never be frowned upon and if all educators across every field can stand together on that, maybe lines of curriculum competition will come around more to be like interlocking circles of commonality, even if there are less meticulous statistics to promote such a change.

If nothing else, as much as anything else, music has infinite value as something to be explored and learned to varying degrees for a variety of society’s ‘expected’ purposes. (no matter your like or dislike of them) When subject percentages in curriculums start to get crazy, I believe education should always hark back and equalize itself on this single principle.

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