The Value of Music in Education
by Marissa Kleinbauer
From the era of the Stone Age to modern day life, few man-made creations have been kept constant. The first few things that may come to mind include fire and the wheel. However, an aspect that people usually forget about, a thing that has been with us for thousands of years, is music. But what is music? When we hear the term, we usually think about a song topping Billboard charts, or a concert we had recently been to. However, we rarely think about how music has truly impacted our lives. There is a reason music has been around for centuries, why it has been embraced as a cultural phenomenon around the world. That reason lies deeper than download charts and auto-tuned artists that the music industry seems to revolve around today. Music has a much deeper meaning, countless benefits and has the power to unite people of different cultures and countries, something more than words alone could ever do. Shouldn’t we make this wonderful experience available to those who need it the most, the young children of our education system, where they are still learning how to develope themselves, and center their individuality and how to handle relationships with others? Music, this powerful force, should be viewed as an essential aspect in a student’s education, and should be treated as such.
Music has the power to unite people from all countries, all situations, and all backgrounds. This powerful aspect of life should be introduced at the earliest age, in order to supply our children with the utmost advantage when developing sympathy, empathy, and diverse cultural tolerance. Music can create a sense of unity between people. In a recent study, participants were told to watch a video of three people walking in or out of step with one another. Some listened to music while watching, while some didn’t. An article from Berkeley explains the intriguing results of the study: “When asked to rate levels of rapport and sense of unity among the three walkers in both conditions, the participants who listened to music perceived a greater rapport and unity among the walkers than those participants who didn’t listen to music.” Somehow, music is able to give its listeners a feeling that can even make complete strangers feel unified in some way. This is extremely important to make available in a school setting, as in school, students are constantly being pressured with academic social standards, feeling as though they have to meet them in order to “fit in”. However, music gives students the ability to not only see their fellow musicians as equals, but others. They can understand that somehow, every student is touched by music, which gives them the ability to know that there are always going to be similarities between them. This can help build stronger bonds between students, paving the way for a more impactful and positive education experience.
Dave Grohl, former drummer for the famous grunge-rock band Nirvana, and frontman/founder of the Goo Goo Dolls, encompassed the diverse interpretations of music when he said, “That’s one of the great things about music. You can sing a song to 85,000 people and they’ll sing it back for 85,000 different reasons.” For example, hit song “Over You,” by country star Miranda Lambert, is interpreted to many as a song about getting over a rough breakup, and missing the person you loved. However, what many don’t know, is that the song was written about the tragic loss of ex-husband Blake Shelton’s brother years ago. Listeners can feel for the song in a multitude of ways, and just because the artist or songwriter wrote the song for one particular reason, doesn’t mean others can’t interpret the song in another way, a way that means a lot to them and they can relate to and reside in on an emotional, personal level.
“Where words fail, music speaks.” Hans Christian Anderson couldn’t have phrased it better when talking about the impact music has on our ability to communicate and feel emotions. Music can connect people to times, events, and a personal story of the past. Matthew Aboukhater, a senior at Canton High School who moved here from Syria in 2014, credits music to getting him through rough times of the past. “Throughout my life in Syria and the United States, music has been the only way I had to escape reality, to postpone the horror of facing what’s happening out there, and the terrifying truth,” says Aboukhater. “Whether I played a sad version of the Syrian anthem. Or listened to a simple Coldplay song to cheer me up, music has always been there as a pillar, an anchor that maintains my sanity.” The power of music can reach to those who have been in difficult situations, and provides the ability to cope by depending on something that will never change and can always be there. Another student at Canton High School even described music as a place to explore thoughts and experiences beyond him/herself. “It’s given me an outlet for anything I could possibly feel. I’ve explored new ideas and opinions through music. It has given me emotional connections to the past, like certain songs reminding me of certain places if events. Not to mention just the enjoyment factor of it.” Music can be a way to travel through time to a place we used to know, travel foward to look towards a future and encourage us to keep moving foward, and even to enjoy the present, and what we are given today.
So why is music so vital in our school systems? School systems cutting music programs due to budget cuts isn’t a foreign headline of a local newspaper; schools across the country oust performing arts programs first. Maybe the money should instead go toward athletics, the science and math department, or to keeping the school in good physical condition. While these may be worthy causes to receive money and funding, is it necessary to do it at the expense of a loss of a major unifying course and curriculum? Musical education provides benefits that other courses can’t. As mentioned above, the emotional and neurological development can not be rated in terms of importance based on budget cuts and money. The ability to create and share in music, something everyone lives with, is something a child can keep with them forever, and when given that opportunity at the most vital time of development, during education, can have a phenomenal impact that a student can treasure for the rest of their lives.