The Melody of Success

October 2, 2011
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Imagine silence. Imagine silence so loud that the entire world would hear; imagine the silence that would come from a world without music. This is not the kind of world we should want for our youth. A pianist, a sculptor, an opera singer, the next generation must include these masters of the arts. In order for us to bring up a successful generation, we as educators, parents, leaders of the community, must provide a quality education for our students. I believe the best education, is an education that includes music and fine arts. Schools need to make the arts a priority, because arts are vital to a quality education, they’re easy to integrate into existing curriculum and, when added, can make a drastic improvement in the success of your student.

Music and visual arts stimulate an important part of the brain. While math, science and reason, speak to the left portion of the brain, the creativity involved in music and art speaks to the right. For a person to learn at their full potential it is important to have a strong connection between the left and right brain; it has been shown that music can improve these connections (Kantrowitz). Music can stimulate the growth of the temporal lobe, a part that without music would not grow (Kantrowitz). Like a French person understands the French language, the temporal lobe uniquely understands the language of music. The interaction involved in art and music creates a better, often more focused learning environment. This was demonstrated in a Californian study with preschoolers. Twelve preschoolers were taught through an online lesson, only half of the students also participated in piano lessons. After testing the children that took the piano lesson tested higher than the children who did not (Kantrowitz). A Harvard study also showed that learning, in general, is more successful when the student is exposed to a wider range of material (Kantrowitz). The statistics are overwhelming in support of how a music integrated education is the most successful in teaching.

Curriculum integrated with fine arts in the past has been unavailable to some schools because of lack of funds and lack of time (Kantrowitz, “New Infusion.”, Herzenhorn). Some schools have found that often the funds must come from outside fundraising, through student’s efforts or through scholarships for the arts. Organizations such as the Annenburge foundation and the Center for the Arts Education supply generous scholarships for schools interested in bringing a fine arts education to their school (Kantrowitz, “New Infusion.”). Another problem plaguing pro-arts-school-hopefuls is simply lack of scheduling room. One alternative, demonstrated by Charles R. Bugg Elementary and Intermediate schools, is arts incorporation in the core subjects. For example, to aid in learning the planets a third grade science class listened to Gustav Holst’s symphony of “The Planets”. Student also learned fractions along with half, quarter and whole notes; the history classes attended an opera in order to aid in the understanding of the time period in which they were studying (Kantrowitz). Other schools have resolved to add another period to the day by decreasing the other periods by 5 or 6 minutes, creating a time dedicated to the arts (Herzenhorn). Finally, some schools, forced to make cuts due to budget shortages, decided to save a few of their arts programs while cutting the others; thereby retaining the critical thread of fine arts in their school (Herzenhorn). Any of these alternatives are a reasonable way to improve your school curriculum through fine arts.

Adding arts to the core classes taught to a student can bring about great improvements in a school’s performance. After beginning a new curriculum, including arts, Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary ranked superior in their state testing, much higher than the state average. They noticed an improvement in student behavior, class participation and a more regular attendance (Kantrowitz). The Intermediate School 237 in Queens recently cut their music and arts programs; a few years later the state testing scores had drastically dropped from when the arts were still being taught (Herzenhorn). P.S. 314 school in Brooklyn and Martin Luther King school both offered an opera infused education to their student, resulting in raised state test scores (Kantrowitz, Herzenhorn). It is also known that knowledge of music contributes greatly to a person’s ability to learn a second or third language (“New Infusion.”). These success stories are just a hint at the amazing results an art education can have on a student body.

Leaders of our public schools must offer the great opportunity of Arts; arts are necessary in improving the education of our students, there are affordable ways to bring this change about, and doing so can have amazing results. You’ve seen the evidence; why wouldn’t you want this for your school? Arts offer a whole new approach to teaching; they can revolutionize the school experience for a student. If you haven’t already entered the arts into your school, I urge you to do so. The success of your students is waiting on your decision.





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