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Why California must fund music education

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  • c slamon
    Why California must fund music education Ted Barone Friday, July 31, 2009 The budget straits the state of California is facing are forcing our leaders to make
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 31 10:44 AM
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      Why California must fund music education

      Ted Barone

      Friday, July 31, 2009
      The budget straits the state of California is facing are forcing our
      leaders to make a series of pernicious choices with legacy implications. One
      such choice is whether to fund music programming or refocus our funding
      priorities to the "core academics" (which happen to be those subjects tested
      in the statewide testing system).

      I propose that we really don't have a choice. We must fund music.

      From the rhythm of our breathing as infants and the comforting lullabies
      that helped us sleep, to the cacophony of song and sound that envelops our
      modern everyday lives, music is an essential factor in what defines us as
      human. Music is a messenger that carries the history and collective
      experience of a people across time and space. Music also helps develop our
      brains in a way that will increase our ability to address and solve the
      extraordinary challenges that lie ahead of us as a people. The musical key
      is the proverbial key. In other words, the structure and organization of
      music is exactly what makes it so important for brain development. From the
      notes, chords are built. Chords determine keys, within which a skillful
      musician creates an experience, a message, a movement. Mix in rhythm and a
      new order of time emerges.

      Music is all about creating neural networks and expanding the speed and
      capacity of the pathways that determine skill and memory. A key finding from
      brain research is that once a neural pathway is established, and the more
      that pathway is used, especially with passion and emotion, the greater the
      "bandwidth" and strength of the connection. Memory is improved, processing
      speed is increased, and better, more sophisticated decisions are a result.

      Music is all about the structural connections that are used to support
      memory. It's much easier to remember something that follows a familiar
      structure or pattern than something random and unfamiliar. These familiar
      structures serve as the foundation for building greater knowledge and even
      stronger and more extensive neural networks that support learning of all
      kinds.

      In a world of extraordinary complexity, a premium is placed on one's ability
      to quickly process massive amounts of wildly varying types of information.
      Musical instruction helps young people develop the brain capacity to process
      a lot of information and to organize and present it.

      Playing music cultivates a mind that is prepared to process and make sense
      of the rush of information and problems that have come to characterize the
      21st century. Music is a core subject. We can't cut funding for music any
      more than we can cut funding for math.

      Ted Barone is the principal of Albany High School.

      This article appeared on page *A - 15* of the San Francisco Chronicle
      Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/columns/openforum/#ixzz0MrMpORB7


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