Why California must fund music education
- Why California must fund music education
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
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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