I have been way too quiet about the arts in education for way too long. I know this is a kind of a bully pulpit and have tried to respect that, BUT, I feel the need to mount my proverbial soap box and say a word about the arts in education.
I recently received a post that was an exerpt from a speech given by Andrew Schwartz, a former music major at Manhattan School of Music now working on his MBA. In it, he outlined various reasons why the arts are so vital to the development of children and education. I’m going to include a few quotes here because Andrew Schwartz said it better than I can, and besides, why reinvent the wheel?
“It’s no secret that education in America is broken. We can’t define a good school, let alone figure out a way to measure success. Yet when money is tight, as it is right now because of the forced budget cuts, the first thing to be cut is always the arts. And that’s a tragedy.”
He continues: “But through that transition, [from music major to MBA program] I’ve realized why music needs to be a cornerstone of education. Music is an art and a science, and it’s one of the best ways kids can learn creativity and those mythical critical thinking skills. The focus of the music curriculum isn’t forcing everyone to learn about Bach or Mozart. It’s about learning how to think, rather than what to think. That “how” is the holy grail of education. It’s exactly what makes a good scientist, a good entrepreneur or a productive member of society. I don’t play the tuba anymore, but I think the lessons I learned from it are actually more ingrained into me now that I have some distance from the actual medium I learned them in.”
Here are the topics Mr. Schwartz covered as he continued this article. He expanded on just how these are taught through music.
Work hard and it pays off – he tells of how hard he had to work when, in junior high, he decided he wanted to challenge first chair in his instrument.
Make it happen – we all know the saying about the show must go on. Regardless of the obstacles, you have to make it happen.
Know where you stand – you have to know how your part fits into the whole.
Do your research – knowing the background, not only of your material, but also your tools (instrument) will improve your performance.
Make connections – learning the relationship of your material, but also learning the relationship of the artist and audience [seller and customer] are lessons applicable all through life.
Work with others – you can’t play a string quartet by yourself.
Be responsible for your work – Even now, as I’m teaching a small choir of 4th – 8th graders, these lessons are being learned. Complete responsibility for one’s own work output? You bettcha. If you can’t make the entrance at the right time; if you can’t sing on pitch; if you haven’t learned the lyrics; if you can’t be heard beyond the first row . . . .you are not going to get the solo. Your mom, dad, teacher or best friend can’t sing the solo for you. It’s just you and how much effort you’ve put into it.
You also learn that it takes way more work for some folks to achieve a desired level of performance than it seems to demand of others. This is probably one of the more valuable lessons we learn in music. What is difficult for some seems to be easy for others. Doesn’t matter. You will find this is true all through life in many mediums. BUT, hard work and dedication will result in an improved output from wherever you start out.
And I’m certain I don’t need to point out that these lessons appear again and again no matter in which field of the arts you endeavor. Painting, drama, writing, graphic design, architecture . .. you learn the lessons younger and most profoundly through the discipline of the arts.
That’s my soap box and I’m standing on it!
P.S. here is a link to the full article.
Note: Tuba player Andrew Schwartz holds a bachelor’s of music from the University of Hartford. He did graduate work at The Manhattan School of Music and is working on an MBA at Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business, where he is president-elect of the Graduate Business Association. He is an intern at Atlanta-based music startup Tunefruit. Schwartz’s story first appeared on CNN iReport.
Adrienne Jacoby is a 40-plus-year resident of Shasta County and native-born Californian. She was a teacher of vocal music in the Enterprise Schools for 27 years and has been retired for 11 years.
A musician all her life, she was married to the late Bill Jacoby with whom she formed a locally well -known musical group who prided themselves in playing for weddings, wakes, riots, bar mitzvas and super market openings. And, oh yes … she has two children, J’Anna and Jayson.