The cost of cutting music education


Determine whether the following statement is True or False:

Perhaps one of the greatest decisions of St. Thomas’s Lutheran Church in the mid 18th century was to eliminate Johann Sebastian Bach as their cantor in the interest of decreasing state spending. The children he taught didn’t mind, and no one missed out on any monumental works or pivotal points in the development of western music.

A) False

B) All of the above

(Hint: You can’t be wrong)

I don’t know if you knew this, but Bach was first and foremost an educator. His responsibilities in Leipzig were to compose for the church and to teach these new pieces to the choirboys throughout the week. Because of Bach there was a music service every Sunday sung by trained musicians. The church was pleased with Bach’s work and compensated him substantially. Sadly, the attitude toward music educators has drastically changed.

Prolific local drummer and School of Music Teaching Specialist Phil Hey recently found out that he might lose his position as part-time jazz instructor at the University of Minnesota after 20 years of service. This article outlines details of Hey’s job loss and explains that his students want someone who still plays outside of an academic setting, someone with real world experience.

Universities aren’t the only educational institutions taking hits in the music department. Julie Workman, an orchestra teacher, was one of 53 teachers laid off by the school board in Rochester. Students protested this cut by performing in front of the board before the meeting on Tuesday. According to Workman, “the orchestra and other music programs are taking the deepest cuts.”

As a musician myself, I know how important these programs are to people. I’m also quite aware that my own school district, ISD 197, isn’t the only district suffering from music cuts. I believe that by cutting middle-school and elementary music programs, students are being cheated out of a well-rounded education. What these school boards don’t realize is that student involvement in music and secure teaching positions have a correlation to academic performance and an overall effect on the student himself.

Music for All is an advocate of school music programs, and in the link I just posted you can find research showing that students involved in music score better on their SAT’s, are more proficient in math, stay away from drugs, and develop crucial problem-solving skills. Why any school district would want to take these benefits away from students is beyond me.

I understand that these cuts aren’t being made to spite anyone and that they are due to budget issues, but we must remember that the cost of education is far less than the cost of ignorance.