Music education for the sake of music education is of course our goal! But we need to advocate for it in so much more of terms of the warm and fuzzy “making kids want to go to school.” “Joy” in school is of COURSE important, but we are doing so much more than creating joy and opportunities to be proud of. Music education friends, this argument that we have been using is failing.
Also, it’s not enough to talk about how music helps kids to do better in math and science – it’s a weak, cliched argument that doesn’t talk about how important MUSIC is.
While actively engaged in Musicking (v. actively participating in music. Listening, watching, performing, organizing, analyzing etc. – this term was coined by Christopher Small) our brains are bilaterally engaged – forging connections, creating and strengthening pathways between all of the important memory centers, language centers, the anticipation receptors, pleasure/fear/emotional receptors. NO other activity lights up the brain like music. Tons of research points to how music actually changes the landscape of the brain. More here and here
It’s dramatic to talk about how a left hemisphere stroke victim with a damaged broca’s or wernicke’s area and how music helped their brain to rewire pathways and enable the right hemisphere to create speech. But then, what of the implications for healthy brains! Strengthening these areas in developing brains will help our kids to become able problem solvers, mathematical, linguistic, scientific, musical, spatial or otherwise.
Really what it’s all about is the manner in which we go about advocating for what we do. By no stretch of the imagination do I intend to take away from the importance that music has for social development, for providing the family experiences of which students so often speak. Nor should we take away the pride in having a kid feel good about a performance. What I am saying, is that we need another prong to the attack. Schools are constantly being forced to reduce or eliminate the things that make students “feel good,” so my argument here is that music makes kids feel good is not enough. Music is vital to the neurological development of our students. Music lays the foundation for increased abilities to solve problems, to be overall more intelligent. If we approach this from all angles, the only option is to offer our kids more - not less. Check out the last video link on the page for the science behind these things (Start at about 23:00 for the meat of the study).
I’d love to see/hear what you think; comment below.