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Public School Music and Art – Just Say No

No Music In Public School[Yesterday a friend posted the image to the right on her Facebook account with the comment, “Oh, yes it does!” Ever the fiscal conservative, I responded, “No, it doesn’t!” She asked me to explain my rationale. The response became unwieldy for a Facebook comment, so I moved it here. Enjoy. Or don’t. :)]

We Love Music and Arts

My last two years of high school included: ballroom dance team, a cappella choir, chamber choir, and symphony orchestra (where I was concert master)—with barely time to finish the needed academics to graduate.

Fast forward a generation to my own kids. While we have homeschooled all six of our kids (three now in college), all of high school aged kids have taken a few classes at the local public school. Most of their selections were music and/or arts classes. My 15-year-old currently homeschooling her academics and attending a charter (public) performing arts high school. The two younger boys take a school-related musical theater class as well.

Read that: we love music and arts and think they are extremely beneficial.

This is one of my daughters and her high school A Cappella Choir singing one of my favorite songs on earth.

Public Schools Should Not Fund Music and Arts

In spite of all this past, current, and probable future involvement with public school music and arts, I do not think public schools should be funding these programs.


Public schools should never have become the source for all that is good and holy—and certainly not the source for all the “important” things our children learn. In spite of that, schools have become a behemoth, ever-expanding, all-encompassing, government-sponsored day care system that takes our kids from kindergarten (and in many states, pre-school) through 12th grade. We offer up our children seven hours (or more!) hours per day, 180 days per year, for at least 13 years—and depend on the teachers to provide everything.

Public Schools Are Minimally Academic

In addition to actual, academic classes, schools we have utilized have provided (often in mandatory settings):

  • “I language” classes
  • Values clarification
  • Conflict resolution
  • Sex ed
  • Maturation education
  • Tolerance education
  • Hearing tests
  • Vision tests
  • Physical education
  • Vocal music performances, tours, and competitions
  • Instrumental music performances, tours, and competitions
  • Drama instruction and performance
  • Sports teams and competitions
  • Dance instruction, teams, and competitions
  • Cheerleading squads
  • Adult roles courses
  • Debate and forensic events
  • Visual arts
  • Counseling
  • Nutritional services
  • Channel One
  • Scholarship assistance
  • Transportation
  • Crossing guards
  • Tutoring
  • Clubs of all kinds
  • Royalty contests
  • Dances
  • Assemblies
  • Parties
  • Libraries
  • Remediation
  • Enrichment” activities while waiting for the kids in remediation
  • Before school care
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • After school care
  • Etc., etc., etc.

Please feel free to add to the list in the comments!

What Is the Role of Public Schools?

Years ago, in Florida, I served on the school advisory council (before we started homeschooling). At the meeting, half the allotted time was devoted to moaning about “lack of funding” and the other half to figuring out “good, valuable, important” programs to add to the school day—and to use more funding.

During one month’s SAC meeting, a teacher proposed that we should start providing dinner service “so the poor working parents wouldn’t have to go home after a long day at work and cook.”

I proposed that we set up little cots and bureaus in the lunchroom so that the parents wouldn’t have to be bothered taking their kids home at all. (Yea, that went over really well.)

Bottom line: the public schools have no defined scope or mission.

“Important” Does Not Mean “Fund It with Taxpayer Money”

In every school situation I’ve been in, administrators and teachers seem to think that if they can successfully argue that something is “important,” nothing else matters. The school district should, ipso facto, provide funding and the school should start administering.

What in the world ever happened to parents?

Unfortunately, parents have been all too happy to send the kids off and let someone else do the work. Whew! If we just throw more money at the schools and provide more programs—we won’t have to lift a finger. (Except, perhaps, by joining the PTA and serving as a room mother once or twice per decade.)

Public Schools Are Not Equipped for Artistic Excellence (or any other)

While there are exceptions—and I’ve personally experienced them (shout out to Mr. Sandgren, choir!)—non-academic classes at public schools are generally mediocre. Even “award-winning” high school groups are generally competing against other mostly mediocre groups.

Now I’m sure your school is the exception. (Funny, everyone’s is.) But the hard truth is, public school music teachers, drama teachers, orchestra teachers generally are not the cream of the crop in their professions. (OK, the same can be said for public school math and English teachers, but I digress.)

That doesn’t mean the kids don’t have fun and it doesn’t mean they don’t learn. It doesn’t mean all teachers are bad or poor or fair, some are exceptional (shout out to Mr. Lindsay, junior honors English!). It doesn’t mean teachers don’t have wonderful intentions. But it’s opportunity cost we should be looking at.

If we can remove the “cafetorium” (a three-story lunchroom complete with enormous flat-screen monitor (used to transmit crucial info like “Chicken nuggets today!”) at many schools such as Willow Creek Middle), the auditorium, the lunchroom and kitchen, the football stadium, the gymnasium, the busses, etc., etc., how many world-class voice lessons, dance lessons, theater productions, coaching sessions, etc., etc. could we afford?

My daughter’s current performing arts high school contradicts this notion. The instruction is utterly top-notch. But they’ve been able to do that only outside the typical public school structure (in a charter school). Each instructor is not just an expert teacher, but a working professional in their field.

While we absolutely love what is offered—and plan to continue to attend and promote the school to any like-minded artists who will listen—I think the community would be better served if tax money was given back to the earners, schools focused on academics, and individuals were allowed to select this type of instruction on their own. They would do this if the programs suited them and if the benefits outweighed the costs. For us, they certainly would.

Academic Focus

If we must have public schools and if we must all hand over our kids 7 hours a day, 180 days per year, for 13 freaking years to “trained educators” perhaps we should define the role the school should fill.

Here’s my idea: schools teach academics. Period.

Are Parents Really Idiots?

On a slight tangent, I’d argue (hard) against the idea that we need to send our kids away at all. Most parents have been hoodwinked into thinking they are too stupid to teach high school level subjects. Seriously, how hard was high school? (And if you really think it was that hard, maybe it’s because you went to public school.)

Parents have also been largely convinced that they need an education degree or certification in order to qualify to teach high school level material and below.

Do these parents realize that education is one of the least academically rigorous majors available in a typical college? (Look at a typical course of study and compare how much is mastering academic content and how much is classroom management.) Do they realize that the majority of elementary education teachers, for example, chose the major in order to avoid upper level math (see research by Sells, et. al.)?

Guess who taught AP Chemistry at the local high school where one of my daughters attended? The cheerleading coach—who didn’t know chemistry. (Yes, we opted out of that “opportunity.”)

For the sake of argument, let’s assume the parents really are complete dolts in a critical subject or two. Could they still be capable of finding at least one person on earth who has mastered, say, high school algebra?

Poor Kids Won’t Suffer—Really

The first objection I always get is that poor kids won’t get music (or art or sports or…)!

Please don’t go there. It’s complete BS. In the United States, people get what is important to them. We were dirt poor in college (well below the poverty line — and had two kids before Sam finished his PhD), so we scraped and saved and bargained and bartered and did whatever we had to in order to provide our kids with what they needed.

Every single time I’ve been in a meeting where someone claimed the schools had to provide something because they couldn’t afford it otherwise, the people screaming poverty had nails, hair dye, clothes, jewelry, shoes, and/or purses I couldn’t afford. The nails alone could have paid for quality piano lessons for a couple of kids.

OK, so some poor kids will suffer—because their parents are selfish idiots who think rhinestone studded nails are more important than piano lessons. If that’s the case, let’s outlaw child-bearing by fools.

Philosophy of Self-Reliance

So, no, I don’t think the school should provide everything you and your children have ever wanted, neatly wrapped up in a convenient, “free” package. In fact, I think the schools—that are funded by the hard work of Americans—should provided a very basic, minimal, academic education, and then get the heck out of Dodge.

Even though money isn’t an issue for us anymore, we require our kids to pay for their things on principle, in order for them to learn the value of things they receive and to see the work behind them.

Once they turn eight, they buy most of the things they need, like clothes, toys, gifts, entertainment, etc. (As I write this, my nine-year-old is shredding old business documents to earn a few dollars toward a computer program he wants. He’s already lined up his next job with a college-aged sibling: cleaning out and vacuuming her car.)

My 15-year-old just returned from a competition musical theater tour to Disneyland that she paid for herself. She also pays for her monthly tuition to the group that went on the tour. How? She sold flashlights and pizza cards. She worked concessions at football and basketball games. She prepared and served popcorn at a Halloween party. She washed cars. She ironed shirts. She babysat. She buster her backside.

All my older kids have done similar things for camps or tours or competitions or lessons or teams or other fun things they wanted to participate in. Your kids (rich or poor) can, too.

My husband put himself through college, from BS, to MS, to PhD. I had my education (tuition and books) funded by mom and dad until I was married. Given our experience and that of many roommates and friends, Sam and I saw a stark difference between those who had education handed to them and those who worked for it. Because of that, we decided the self-reliance model should continue.

We have three kids at BYU this year, one in graduate school and the others undergrads. Our kids pay their way through college—with minimal help from us as undergrads—even though they generally don’t qualify for any financial aid because we make too much. Yes, it’s tough. But it’s entirely possible on minimum-ish wages jobs, with hard work and sacrifice.

Do the math. Nobody needs the government nanny to go to college. Period. We’ve just been told—over and over by those who want to control the money (and by doing so control us)—that we need assistance and help to make it.

Community Dies When Schools Take Over and Give “Free” Services

The homeschool community is living proof of individuals—without government intervention or funding—filling the needs of families and children. It could fill another entire post, but I don’t intend to do that here. Suffice it to say that resources that are available become extinct as people lose the ability to take care of themselves.

When Mrs. Sutton—funded by Uncle Sam—starts teaching all the six-year-olds to read, the parents forget how to do it (and don’t have a model for teaching reading) and become dependent on the government to provide even the simplest, most basic tasks.

From what I read and hear today, parents can’t possibly be expected even to feed and transport their own kids to school. After generations of subsidized school lunch programs and taxpayer-funded busing systems, most parents—even those who are educated and financially well off—cannot fathom the idea of being responsible for such things.

Schools Should Not Fund Music and Art and Everything Under the Sun

In conclusion, no, I do not think music and art and dance and theater and sports belong in public schools. Even if they are good. Even if they are valuable. Even if they are important.

Schools should have a defined purpose and meet that purpose efficiently and effectively—and leave the rest to us.

{ 42 comments… add one }
  • MusicTeacher March 6, 2013, 7:17 am

    I am an elementary school music specialist. I am trained and certified in what I do. I strongly object to your statement that I am “mediocre.” My kids love me.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 6, 2013, 8:44 am

    Thanks for joining the conversation, everyone. I’ll try to respond the best I can.

    MusicTeacher, I’m glad to have you join the conversation and to have the opportunity to clarify.

    I am an elementary school music specialist. I am trained and certified in what I do.

    Sincerely no offense intended, but I don’t really put much value in such certification. Such programs don’t require you to be a good performer or a good teacher, they simply require that you move through the program requirements and check them off.

    I strongly object to your statement that I am “mediocre.”

    With all due respect, I did not say you were mediocre. I tried to be clear that I was generalizing and pointed out that I have seen some great teachers. I could have added a number of shout outs both from my own experience and that of my kids. But overall, the percentage of great teachers has been low.

    [If any of my/my kids teachers are reading this, assume you are on the deserve-a-shout-out list.]

    On the other hand, I have never paid to have my kids take piano lessons, dance lessons, karate lessons, from a mediocre teacher/coach. If the teacher isn’t great — or just isn’t a great fit for my kids — we move on.

    When it’s my own money — and it’s discretionary — I make sure we don’t waste resources. When it’s “free” we are much lazier about the outcome. (Medical insurance and other hidden costs tend to be the same, btw.)

    My kids love me.

    This may be true. But whether they love you or not isn’t the best indicator of the qualify of music education you provide — and that’s what we’re talking about! If true, that probably contributes to the quality, but certainly isn’t the only factor.
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  • Loren March 6, 2013, 7:59 am

    I just stumbled across this post from Facebook. While I’ve always been a supporter of public school arts, you make a very good case. I have to rethink.

    My problem is twofold:
    1- where to get quality programs out of schools
    2- how to get others (and myself) to wean themselves off the government teats


  • Alison Moore Smith March 6, 2013, 9:02 am

    ChowHound, a few ideas:

    (1) They walk.
    (2) They ride a bike.
    (3) You drive them.
    (4) You arrange a carpool.

    In other words, if it’s important to you, take care of it. They are your kids. 🙂
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  • ChowHound March 6, 2013, 8:06 am

    How are the kids supposed to get to the activities if they are not at school?

  • Alison Moore Smith March 6, 2013, 9:00 am

    Loren, glad that the post got you thinking! 🙂 I can’t ask for more than that.

    where to get quality programs out of schools

    In my experience, it’s just a matter of looking around. Sincerely, many parents just aren’t used to digging out what’s out there beyond what’s handed to them in the school guide. 🙂

    For a number of years I directed a teen swing choir in my home. Currently Monica is part of Acting Up! — a community performing group (Alana was also a member briefly in high school). There are numerous youth programs available at the same venue. Her performing arts high school meets at the location of a performing arts program called On Broadway. There are at least three children’s choirs I know of close by and a couple of other drama/musical theater type groups.

    Here’s what you need to notice:

    Do you have karate programs in your town? Almost every place I go there are dozens of such programs. Why? They usually don’t have to compete with “free” school karate programs.

    Now look for football/basketball/baseball programs. Even small towns usually develop sports leagues, but most end in junior high or high school — because the schools take over the sports programs.

    The sad thing about that is that there is only room for very few players at the competitive high school level, so most people just drop out of sports all together.

    Some programs do survive the school competition (dance most readily comes to mind). But the point is that communities really do provide what people want.

    how to get others (and myself) to wean themselves off the government teats

    Hah. Now on that count I have no answers! Other than to educate people to the real costs of the “free” programs, to the problems with government dependency, and to try to convert them to real freedom, I don’t know.

    I find it incredibly discouraging how many people — even those who call themselves “conservative” — are more than happy to heap on all manner of government-funded programs as long as they see a personal benefit.

    If you have answers, I’m all ears!
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  • Tami March 6, 2013, 10:01 am

    Love this! My only issue (still) is saying that schools should not have music and art (or sports or whatever else), BUT, since they do, we’ll take advantage. I can’t help but feel it is more moral to not participate if you don’t believe in it. (Understand this is the pot calling the kettle black, now ;))

    Also, think of the small business opportunities, as well as the chances to use our gifts and talents, that would come up if we stopped going to the school for extracurricular activities and instead became involved in our communities. How fun to have the whole city turn up for the community play, because everyone knows someone in it! It would take an adjustment though — do you know how hard it is for the rec centers to find coaches for all the kids’ soccer teams alone? Especially the older teams (parents of younger children are often more enthusiastic still). We’re a drop-off society where the parents don’t want to bother being involved and figure someone else will do it.

  • Hannah March 6, 2013, 1:27 pm

    I know your stance isn’t popular but I’m glad you’ve taken it and I agree with many of your thoughts. I also want to point out that although it is in most (all?) state constitutions to provide a public education, at any level it is educational welfare. If it is funded by those who don’t directly benefit (direct tax) it is a redistribution of the wealth. Ezra Taft Benson said, “”Do not rationalize your acceptance of government gratuities by saying, “I am a contributing taxpayer too.” By doing this you contribute to the problem which is leading this nation to financial insolvency.”” No matter your view of the man the principle is obvious to me. If I want the government to change I stop taking and encourage others to do the same. Will it change? I can only hope, even if that hope is without faith. Remember, “Be the change you wish to see in this world.” There are worse things than a child not being in a big play or chamber choir or playing on the football team- one is watching their parent live contrary to what they believe and know is right.

  • Tamsyn March 6, 2013, 2:14 pm

    I love this article and agree with all of your points. Here’s the where we may or may not disagree. I don’t agree in public education from the federal level at all. I do see the benefits on a locally controlled and run level. But perhaps that’s beside the point. My only argument would be that if public school CAN be justified, I think music should be an important part of it. I also think that we shouldn’t just pay lip service to music by learning that Beethoven was deaf, if we are going to have a music class, kids should be learning to create music. Music is an academic, as much as math and reading are. You are right though, we are vague when we try to describe what the role of public schools are, and it should be defined. As a homeschooled student, I actually ONLY attended the music classes while I was in high school. They were great and I learned a lot. However, they didn’t hold a candle to the community music experiences I had. My little community had a lot of them. It was important to me, and I sought them out. The best part about the community music opportunities was that everybody wanted to be there. No students trying for an easy “A”.
    If we can justify having public schools, the community should decide what is important for those schools to teach. If rodeo is an integral part of that community, include riding lessons. If business is important to the community, include business classes. That’s why I think public schools should be locally controlled and run- the public schools should provide what the local people want it to provide. When you get right down to it, why should public schools teach calculus? Few adults use it day to day, but they all need to know how to cook, so why not include home-ec?
    I’m not arguing for home-ec in schools as much as to say that local communities should define what public school’s purpose is. Frankly, it’s the parents job to see that their children receive an education. Generally speaking a lot of parents and teachers have forgotten this, and that’s where a lot of the problems have stemmed from.

  • AnonymousTeacherHere March 6, 2013, 2:59 pm

    A friend (who knows my mind) pointed me to your site. It may surprise you, but I agree 100%.

    I actually think I’m a damn good teacher, but most teachers are awful. That’s not because I’m the smartest person on the planet, but most teachers (I’ve been teaching for 27 years) don’t like the kids, don’t like the schools, and aren’t even that competent in the subjects they teach. And they can’t get fired.

    When they went to college it seemed like an easy major and a “sure” job where they could make decent money (don’t listen to them crying about pay, they couldn’t make nearly as much doing any other job with the skills they have), get great benefits, amazing schedules, security, retirement, etc.

    My colleagues were complaining last month because we “only” got a 3% raise this year–when the rest of the country is struggling or out of work. No one else gets a pay raise except other government workers.

    Anyway, just want to throw my 2¢ in about it. I would love to sign my name, but you can imagine that the powers that be don’t like it when teachers step out of line. Thanks for a great post.

  • Jarrod March 6, 2013, 3:05 pm

    I had to laugh at the comment about nails. I’m on the PTA board in my kid’s school and can tell you it’s true. I’m not very conservative, so I don’t mind the schools providing programs (the more the better!), but I do laugh when I hear the people complain about income problems and they have long, acrylic nails in multiple color with glitter and designs and even jewels on them.

    Last week a woman had PIERCED nails with little gold charms hanging from them! But she couldn’t afford breakfast for her ONE child.

    I asked my wife and she said just getting the nails fixed every two weeks costs about $15. Even without all the baubles, that’s $30 a month, plenty of money to buy oatmeal and milk for breakfast. (Which is what WE eat.)

    Working hard to pay for these lazy, stupid people is getting tiresome.

  • Ponderme1 March 6, 2013, 3:26 pm

    You state your case very well. I never thought of most of these things.

  • Susanne March 6, 2013, 6:19 pm

    A solution to this problem, believe it or not, was found in Southern California. The parents at two elementary schools, who were unhappy that the music program and an after-school drama program were getting axed, decided to do something about it. They coordinated together, organized, raised funds, and hired a professional to teach music to all of the grades in both schools. The same person also casts a play and works with the actors after school, and the older classes are the chorus for the play. She uses the same props etc at both schools. The schools provide classrooms, staging, and support. They are happy, the parents are happy, the kids are happy, and my sister is happy. She is the teacher/director.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 6, 2013, 8:49 pm

    Lots to catch up on! Thanks for the great comments!


    Love this! My only issue (still) is saying that schools should not have music and art (or sports or whatever else), BUT, since they do, we’ll take advantage. I can’t help but feel it is more moral to not participate if you don’t believe in it.

    You bring up a good point, one that I’ve thought of a great deal.

    I don’t feel a moral imperative to stay out of schools because I don’t think schools (or school programs) are immoral. I also don’t think I have a moral obligation to refuse to participate in things I “don’t believe in.” I think our tax system is a joke. I don’t believe in it at all. But I still follow the rules and pay my taxes (although I do grumble about it a lot). 🙂

    Also, think of the small business opportunities, as well as the chances to use our gifts and talents, that would come up if we stopped going to the school for extracurricular activities and instead became involved in our communities.

    Absolutely — and I address that specifically in a section of the post.

    We’re a drop-off society where the parents don’t want to bother being involved and figure someone else will do it.

    And there’s the rub. :/ How do we get parents who are accustomed to dropping off their kids (and the responsibility for their kids) to step up to the plate? I don’t have an answer for that. Once dependency is developed, it’s hard to go back. (And, of course, politicians know that.)
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  • Alison Moore Smith March 6, 2013, 8:55 pm

    Hannah, I know many people who feel as you do about not participating at all in schools. I don’t take such a hard line. But I’m happy to express my opinions about the system.

    My thoughts are based entirely on principles, not on personal benefit. To me, that is the danger, when we remove principle and vote for our own gain at the expense of others.
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  • Alison Moore Smith March 6, 2013, 9:04 pm


    I don’t agree in public education from the federal level at all. I do see the benefits on a locally controlled and run level.

    I absolutely agree with you on that count.

    Music is an academic, as much as math and reading are.

    I tend to disagree — although I really just formulated this thought during my workout today — but I’ll try to touch on that later in response to another comment I received off the blog. 🙂

    If we can justify having public schools, the community should decide what is important for those schools to teach. If rodeo is an integral part of that community, include riding lessons. If business is important to the community, include business classes. That’s why I think public schools should be locally controlled and run- the public schools should provide what the local people want it to provide.

    I have mixed feelings about this. I agree that communities have the power to make these decisions — and NOT the feds — but I really hate how this works. People want something, so they get it — by taking money from those who earn it. I want rodeo — and you’re going to pay for it. I want clogging — and you’re going to pay for it.

    Frankly, it’s the parents job to see that their children receive an education. Generally speaking a lot of parents and teachers have forgotten this, and that’s where a lot of the problems have stemmed from.

    Spot on.
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  • Alison Moore Smith March 6, 2013, 9:10 pm

    Susanne, thank you for the brilliant example. The norm is for people to demand more stuff at taxpayer expense. But your example SHOULD be the norm. People want something, they work out a way to get it (and pay for it).

    When I directed a swing choir, I held two hours of rehearsal per week and charged $10 per student. (I actually intended to do it for free (two of my kids were in it), but I was reminded that if people made SOME payment, they would take it more seriously.) The kids were required to learn music at home and purchase their own music and costumes.

    Think about a typical class of, say, 30 kids. If each kid paid $2 for an hour long rehearsal, the teacher would make $60 an hour. Not a burden on the student and not a problem for most teachers.
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  • Alison Moore Smith March 6, 2013, 9:13 pm

    There are a few comments I’ve received in other venues. I’m spread kind of thin trying to respond without repetition, so I’m going to copy all of them here and answer them. I’m not going to use the names of those respondents, but will invite them to comment here if they choose to. I’ll put their comments in italics to indicate that the response was received off the blog.
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  • Alison Moore Smith March 6, 2013, 9:32 pm


    It is an intersting post, but I still disagree. I believe that music and the arts are as iimportant to a well-rounded education as math, science and language.

    My knee-jerk response to this was the following:

    So do I. I just think parents should pay for it. And for sports. And for all non-academic stuff.

    OK, I think parents should provide academic stuff, too. But as I said, the school is ever-expanding and always begging for more money “for the children.”

    As I said in the post, just because it’s important doesn’t make it the governments job to provide it.

    But I was always waiting for the schools to offer potty training. That’s pretty darn important and I would have loved to hand off that responsibility.

    As I referenced above, right after I posted that response I went to do my workout. In the middle of a three-position decline pushup I realized how wrong-headed my response was — and how I don’t even believe it myself.

    I think I’ve been clear in saying that I love music. I’ve benefited greatly and spend thousands of hours practicing and participating in musical endeavors.

    But I absolutely to not believe that “music and the arts are as important to a well-rounded education as math, science, and language.” Not on your life. Not a chance.


    Because I can personally give you hundreds of examples of people who thrive and are exceptionally happy and successful with absolutely ZERO musical education. NONE. They can’t read a note. They don’t sing. They don’t play an instrument. They know nothing about composers or music history or music theory. (Unless it’s something they just happened to pick up in the course of living — in which case it makes no case at all for SCHOOL courses.) In fact, I know more than my share of folks who are completely tone deaf.

    Unless we’re going to go to the absurd and claim that putting Gotye and Flo Rida on an iPod is “musical literacy,” then it’s simply nonsensical to claim that a musical education is extremely important.

    Again, please don’t confuse my position. I love music. All six of my kids have taken piano lessons, they all take music theory, they’ve all been in choirs, some have studied other instruments, one is an music dance theater major (who makes a living performing), one is a competitive ballroom dancer, another attends a performing arts school.

    But no one needs music to be survive in our culture — and they don’t need music to be successful.

    On the other hand, anyone who can’t read, can’t write decently, and hasn’t mastered at least algebra is at a serious disadvantage. (We love science, too, but I’m happy to concede that a great deal of science is enough of a speciality that it isn’t necessary for many people.)
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  • Alison Moore Smith March 6, 2013, 9:41 pm


    I appreciate the time you took to share your views, but I must agree with [MRL]. I was in music programs from 4th grade through high school and college, and there is no doubt they enriched my life in countless ways.

    RH, I’m not sure what you’re agreeing or disagreeing with. I love music, too. (Have I been unclear about that? ;)) But the fact that you were involved in public school music for a long time — and think it was beneficial — doesn’t really address the point about whether or not schools should provide a particular service.

    Case in point. I took private violin lessons from 3rd grade through 10th grade. I benefited a great deal from those lessons. So, should the schools start giving private violin lessons to all students? (Are you ready to pay for it?)

    I hope you can see my point: just because something is “important” or “beneficial” doesn’t mean in should be thrust under the umbrella of public education.

    As for who pays for it, that’s a whole other orchestration.

    Actually, that IS the point.

    If you want to pay to learn to slurp jello through your nose, I support you. If you want to tell me that’s it’s a superb talent that has improved your self-esteem and notoriety, hey, more power to you. But if you want to put it in the schools and make me pay for it, you’re going to get a fight.

    In other words, it is ONLY when someone else is footing the bill that the value of an activity is ever an issue.

    [P.S. Jello through the nose? Yes, I taught a kid who did that and whose mom thought it was awesome sauce. But, hey, I didn’t pay for it.]
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Healthy Work from HomeMy Profile

  • Lori March 6, 2013, 8:55 pm

    Thank you! I loved your article!

  • Alison Moore Smith March 6, 2013, 10:31 pm


    I find most of your post offensive. I’m about to finish my bachelors in education, I for one did not choose the profession ”to avoid higher math” or because it’s less academically rigorous, I choose my profession because I love teaching kids.

    BLC, I’m sincerely unsure why you’d choose to be offended. I think the post is more than clear that these are generalizations. If you love higher math, hooray for you. But the statement about math avoidance wasn’t my opinion. It is the result of research (as I noted). Do some research on math anxiety, you might be surprised, particularly as it applies to those in the teaching profession.

    My sister has a master’s in math. Her thesis topic? Scientists, school teachers, and the two cultures of mathematics. And, yea, most teachers — those who introduce our children to math — don’t understand math as a tool, they see it as a trick.

    while I agree that schools should butt out of certain subjects (sex Ed).. there are a lot of studies that back sports and fitness education, not to mention music. P.E has been shown to decrease behavior issues and increase knowledge retention.

    You fundamentally miss the point. I think both physical education and music are important. I just think “important” is a remarkably stupid criteria to use when adding programs to taxpayer funded schools.

    I bet you could think of lots of things that are incredibly important that we don’t — and shouldn’t — teach in schools. In fact, I bet you can sit much better studies showing how important they are.

    For example, I bet that you could easily show that kids who get a full nights sleep do MUCH better in school, have decreased behavioral problems, and better knowledge retention. So why aren’t we setting up dorms and making sure they sleep eight hours every night???

    You say the schools should butt out of sex ed. Why? Sex ed is “important.” It’s really important.

    I have been looking into home schooling my children, which is why I’m on this page, but I’m tired of the ”we’re right, there wrong” mentality.

    First, this post wasn’t about homeschooling and wasn’t promoting it. Second, if you’re tired of that mentality, why did you post showing why you’re right and I’m wrong? 😉

    not everyone can (or should) home school,

    Why not?

    just like not everyone can stay home. it sounds like you’ve been extremely successful in homeschooling your children, but that doesn’t mean we need to destroy a system that does things differently.

    Can I please ask you to clarify what system is I am trying to destroy? Other than to make an argument that the bloated schools have gone far beyond a reasonable scope — mostly because they HAVE no scope (other than to get as big as they can and grab as much money (and thus power) as they can — and should actually make a sound case for each dollar they spend that belongs to someone else?

    I suspect that given the fact that ”money isn’t struggle” for you, you haven’t been into some of the ”lower” schools.

    Did you miss half the post? Money isn’t a struggle for us NOW.

    As for “lower” schools, I have chosen only to send my kids to environments that I think are worthwhile and uplifting. If the only option was a place that was not so, they wouldn’t go — and we’d make the sacrifices necessary to make that happen.

    You seem to believe there is some socioeconomic barrier to being a good parent that I rarely see. One of my early homeschooling friends was a woman named Donna Nichols-White. She was a black homeschooling woman who published a news magazine called The Drinking Gourd. It was the first multi-cultural home education magazine as far as I know. One of her main focuses was trying to get minorities to see that homeschooling and/or providing a sound education wasn’t about income or race. Sometimes it was hardest getting the majority to stop promoting that mindset.

    And, for what it’s worth, often homeschoolers are very poor and live in lousy places.

    Having lived well below the poverty line — without taking welfare or social services — I’m frankly amazed at how many people have accepted the notion that people can’t survive, can’t learn, can’t do X, Y, or Z unless they have resources and/or help from the nanny. It’s just not true — and so incredibly frustrating to hear, because its absolutely crippling to those who believe it.

    while yes you run into people who burn money on nails and hair dye instead of food but you also see parents working multiple jobs and scrimping..

    Bottom line. If they are working multiple jobs, then surviving is definitely possible. No, they won’t be vacationing in the Caribbean (well, probably not), but they can live well. Get creative.

    When we were in college, we had two kids and made the equivalent (in today’s dollars) of $20,288.99. We were poor (in American terms) but lived happy, fulfilling lives. We had what we needed and didn’t need redistributed income to survive or to have the things our kids needed.

    [For the record, we couldn’t afford general medical insurance, so we bought a catastrophic umbrella policy and then used local clinics and paid cash, negotiated when we could.]

    these parents struggle to help their kids with homework, but you think that they have time to run Johnny to soccer or piano?

    This kills me. Just an hour ago a woman asked me about this exact thing. Can you please, for the love of pete, tell me why a kid is in school for seven hours and then still has HOMEWORK after school? What are they DOING all freaking day long? How in the world can a CHILD be expected to spend 9, 10, 11, or MORE hours a DAY doing worksheets? Good grief!!

    Anyway, here we go again. Poor mom and dad can’t take Johnny to soccer and piano — SO WE BETTER DO IT FOR THEM OR THE KIDS WILL SUFFER.

    The entitlement mentality is just overwhelming. Kids without soccer and piano will be just fine. Just like kids without woodworking will be fine. And kids without scrapbooking. And kids without tennis. And kids without water polo. EVEN THOUGH some kids LOVE and BENEFIT from all those things.

    I’m not saying we should provide everything, and school should not be a daycare. But why take away the ”fun” learning that often times is the only reason some kids come to school?

    (1) Because the purpose of school is not to entertain. Take them to a comedy club for that. (And please don’t suggest we have mandatory, taxpayer funded, comedy assemblies.)

    (2) You say you are going to be a teacher — and yet even you don’t think general academic subjects are exciting, interesting, and even “fun”? We are doomed!

    Art and music is important!

    I think you didn’t read the whole post. Just a guess! 😉

    We need to give kids opportunities outside of their (and their parents) interests.

    Because teachers know best what kids should learn. Because, after all, they have that super rigorous degree to prove it.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Dealing with Illness When Working from HomeMy Profile

  • lisalisa March 6, 2013, 10:12 pm

    Mark my words, BLC will never respond. He’s stone cold slapped down 🙂

  • Brenna March 7, 2013, 1:07 am

    Im more worried when teachers or teachers-to-be have in critical thinking skills. But it kind of proves the point that teachers are mediocre.

  • Carol March 7, 2013, 5:36 am

    I’ve read it all. I taught in public education for 20 years, elementary and junior high school. I was on Science Fair Committees, cheer leading and volleyball coach, worked as writer on State CRT tests, read and evaluated state writing exams … Helped create our first computer lab, worked for teacher /district harmonious relations, represented my state at National Education conference level four years, tutored, cheered and counseled my students and have north to six of my own and raised three more when I got remarried. I have known Alison for a very long time and she speaks her mind and she is opinionated and amazing and failure is not an option for her personal mantra. She is certainly NOT the norm. She works hard to reach her goals. She is nothing like many mainstream folks who have never figured out that mediocrity is a choice. I moved from the Western states to New York City. Changed occupations from educator to realtor My two youngest transplanted to schools here. We were overwhelmed by how the largest public school system works. There are no boundaries by blocks, the boundaries are by student desire and success. My daughter was told she couldn’t get into the AG program at John Bowne because they only take freshmen and sophomores. She was transferring in last quarter of her Junior year ( right? Awful mom making her move right before her senior year…. I went to a different school every year if high school and turned out just fine ). Point is we didn’t take no or status quo and they took her in… In fact they even elected her FFA President for her Senior year and that experience and her personal fortitude paid off. Schools in NYC has regent tests. They are hard and you have to pass. They have extra classes that west schools don’t. She took public transportation one hour each way (scho only 8.5rs from our house. But that is how it works). Free metro cards to students that only work certain school hours Busses only for special Ed and physically handicapped students. She had to do early start at 7:00 am and she had 10 period days for her extra classes and FfA leadership meetings. They have a four acre farm on school grounds. City kids don’t get to hang at farms so it seemed necessary. They raise chickens goats miniature horses numerous small mammals, exotic reptiles and birds (zoos are big here) as well as crops, orchards etc. summer the kids work the farm and even go intern at dairy farms. My daughter spent her summer before senior year making views and shoveling manure. She loved it! She was one of 10 10 Caucasian students in a sea of 4,000 black, brown and Asian faces… Her nick name was “hey You, White Girl!” She not only survived she bloomed. Her name was caked numerous times at Awards Assemblies and she was featured soloist in choir. They were not well funded but learned to appreciate the cooperation. Her music teacher was pianist and conductor. A true talent who went above and beyond and gave real grades based on actual specified outcomes. But I digress
    My son had to try out and submit pieces of dramatically work, show his original script boards etc to five performing arts schools for his freshman year placement. They have science, medical, aviation, design, law, economics, humanity, general, broadway based, and dance focused high schools. You have to be good and accepted and its competitive. The cream is separated. The best of the best go with like minded and are taught by industry experts who are either retired from their business or work in tandem or part time. My son got into a newer high svhol. The academy of careers in television and film is its name. They work with Kaufman Astoria studios (home of Sesame Street and the friends, Cosby and nurse Jackie to name a few and Silvercup studios home of marvel movies. Avengers etc). It was tied 2nd just this as best high school based on criteria of independent group that monitors the public system. It’s only four years old, It meets in two floors of a shared building with a middle school. Not uncommon here for schools to share a facility. Anyway. My son loves scho. He never misses. He gets up on his own. His teacher culture is on a first name basis. Not that I reallyike that, but it works for him. The school is getting moved to new location next year. New building in Ong Island City next to river across from the United Nations Building. They have top floors of the six floo school.middle floors will be new middle school And first floor will be severely handicapped bussed program. They are one of the few schools with room for a field. Grass! They are going to add football and soccer teams to play against the city leagues and other area schools that have grass. It’s a different system than the west. School subjects are first, extracurricular is just that. Extra. Not all get it. If you want a different focus you find the school that offers it and try to get in. Long story short…. Kids here work for their dreams and some amazing folks that fill our screens and our business and scientific communities are products of the huge system. There is a Hispanic kid from far Rockaway the place Sandy flooded out , that travels to the Bronx Science Academy in the Bronx It’s 25 miles by car but over 2.5 hours one way on public trains and busses and walking. He never misses and he works for his coveted spot. They are innovators at the school working in real life research. He is only one of thousands like him. My son was one of the 80 who got accepted in out of the 1800 that applied. He feels responsible up not waste the opportunity. He’s going to be a director. He wants to make films and tell stories. It’s not improbable. It’s New York and dreams are made here every day. Effort to succeed is required to make it… The specialized high schools do that well. The rest of the pack end up in various public school venues where done are just warehouses waiting to move from there to poverty or prison. Or, in public schools where individual teachers band together to be excellent in difficult neighborhoods. I haven’t even touched on the Jewish, Cathie or Islamic schools that work independent. The private schools and the homeschooled groups and the broadway star tutor programs. The point is there is not one right way and no one school can or should be expected to provide it all. Parents dumped their kids and problems at my door for many years and I sometimes spent more time helping their kids to be amazing then I had time to do for my own… Every situation should be looked at constructively and with much foresight. If you can pay the piper don’t play in the band. Excuse any typos. It’s early and I’m on my iPhone keyboard.

  • Amy March 7, 2013, 9:14 am

    My son attends a private religious school. Up until now he was homeschooled. His private school requires parents volunteer at least 40 hours a year. Because I have several small children I do my volunteer hours from home correcting papers. After one terrible batch of book reports I emailed the teacher that I was concerned with the pathetic quality of the books, immoral messages, poorly written summaries and the fact that the parents had sign off on the book. (They literally signed the book report stating the book was at or above the child’s reading level and that they approved of the book.) The teacher replied that even though parents were “supposed” to be involved, many just saw this school as a place to drop off the kids. Many find 40 hours, over the course of a year, to be too much to ask.

    I love the philosophy of the school but the execution falls flat without parental involvement. By that I mean parents involved in THEIR OWN CHILD’S education, not being a room mother. Public or private, when parent’s aren’t involved that’s when kids really suffer.

    BTW, even though my son’s teacher could have his children attend the school as part of his compensation he and his wife choose instead to keep them home.

  • Christel March 7, 2013, 9:40 am

    Great post. Thanks for sharing your experience and your thoughts on the enlarged and overwhelming role of school.

  • Upstate March 7, 2013, 10:34 am

    New York City spends over $18,000 per year per student. That is the highest in the nation along with Washington DC. I’m so glad (sarcasm) they have so many options and suck so much money from people.

    You shouldn’t be proud, it’s an embarrassment.


    Sorry, I don’t know how to do the link thing, but there is the web site address.

  • pardonmoi March 7, 2013, 10:44 am

    I was just reading through the comments and thought this one from Carol made a good example of what the article is talking about.

    ***I’ve read it all. I taught in public education for 20 years, elementary and junior high school. I was on Science Fair Committees, cheer leading and volleyball coach, worked as writer on State CRT tests, read and evaluated state writing exams … Helped create our first computer lab, worked for teacher /district harmonious relations***

    I think this was supposed to sound praiseworthy and I guess it is because you spend so much time doing work in all different parts of the school, but it made me wonder about it.

    on the science fair committee —- are you a scientist or do you have training in science or research or any particular field?

    cheerleading coach —- were you a cheerleader in college or high school or were you a gymnast or competitive at dance or something related?

    volleyball coach —- same were you a volleyball player in college or have lots of playing or coaching of volleyball?

    writer of state tests —– what qualifications for writing those test that students have to pass?

    evaulating writing exams —- are you a writer, author, or have expertise in writing or other training?

    computer lab —– are you a computer expert?

    harmonious relations —- ???? are you an expert in harmony I guess? are you known for being kind and gentle and even tempered? i don’t really know what that means, but are you an expert in it?

    My kids all go to public schools and I appreciate the work that teachers put in, but most of the time they are n’t really qualified. So its nice that you coach cheerleading but if your not good at cheerleading then its what the article said. Maybe you even win cheerleading contests, but if all the teams are coached by history teachers its kind of a waste or not the best we could do.

    Why not save the money and have the kids go to real cheerleader coaches? I guess that’s my point.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 7, 2013, 5:50 pm

    Carol, I definitely admire your temerity! Typing all that on an iPhone???? Dude, you deserve a prize!

    Schools in NYC has regent tests. They are hard and you have to pass.

    I was reading the news today and this link popped up:

    Officials: 80 Percent Of Recent NYC High School Graduates Cannot Read

    DC and New York have had the highest spending in the nation for years. I haven’t researched NY much, but know that DC usually has the worst test scores.

    Having a monolith like the school system you describe might well serve some kids really well, but the evidence suggests it’s on overall failure. Here’s the kicker from that article:

    In sheer numbers it means that nearly 11,000 kids who got diplomas from city high schools needed remedial courses to re-learn the basics.

    To meet the needs of the students, City University has launched a special program called CUNY Start. It provides low-cost immersion classes.

    So, let’s see. After spending about a quarter of a million dollars per student, we have to set up ANOTHER taxpayer funded program to get very basic skills for them? That’s insane.
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  • Alison Moore Smith March 7, 2013, 5:53 pm

    Amy, thanks for the insights. I honestly don’t even know what to say about how parents have abdicated the responsibility to educate their kids. When they can’t manage 40 hours a year, what is there to say?
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…3 Work at Home Productivity SecretsMy Profile

  • UtahMama March 7, 2013, 4:55 pm

    I was trying to find how much New York spends on education and I thought the article said they spent $6900. I was kind of amazed at that huge list of things your school gets compared to Utah — where we spend about the same.

    The I realized that I was looking at what NYC spends just for buses, not what they spend for everything!


    Maybe it’s time for parents to start getting kids to school like the charters do here! Yikes!

  • Tamsyn March 7, 2013, 7:30 pm

    Quote (me then you) If we can justify having public schools, the community should decide what is important for those schools to teach. If rodeo is an integral part of that community, include riding lessons. If business is important to the community, include business classes. That’s why I think public schools should be locally controlled and run- the public schools should provide what the local people want it to provide.

    I have mixed feelings about this. I agree that communities have the power to make these decisions — and NOT the feds — but I really hate how this works. People want something, so they get it — by taking money from those who earn it. I want rodeo — and you’re going to pay for it. I want clogging — and you’re going to pay for it.
    My key word was “if”. I want math, and you’re going to pay for it. I want reading, and you’re going to pay for it. Why is that okay? And IF reading and writing are is okay, why not rodeo if that’s what the community thinks a balanced education consists of? If it is okay, if it is moral to say that public school is okay for the 3 R’s, it’s not a stretch to say other subjects are too.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 7, 2013, 9:10 pm

    I see what you mean.

    In my mind Thomas Jefferson (If I remember correctly) had some sound ideas about public schools. They were never intended to be the end all be all in education and were, generally speaking, intended for those who sincerely did not have the means to educate. They were intended to ensure a literate citizenry for the sake of the overall good.

    As I think about this, it occurs to me that this very literally (if you accept the premise) the three Rs as the basic literacy. Adult level reading, communicative writing, and mastery of algebra.

    In other words, I do see a big distinction between the country (or, more appropriately, the states individually) agreeing that it’s OK for us to band together to minimally educate all children and for us to mandate rodeo (or music) for all, just because they are “good” or “important.” I make that distinction because I think the three I mention are essentially crucial to be functional.

    Does that make sense?
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  • Tamsyn March 8, 2013, 7:28 am

    It was Jefferson who talked about it, and I do understand what you are saying. I just disagree. 🙂 I am supportive of the idea of communities banning together to create schools for the children. I don’t think it should be mandatory for everyone to pitch in for them. Charities have long provided for the educational needs of the poor, and most often that education consisted of the three Rs. Were there still poor that didn’t get an education? Of course. But that’s happening today even with compulsory schools. I think the three Rs are very important, as are a slew of other life skills and disciplines. I would donate to a community school and probably offer a music class there, especially when my children were of age. But I don’t think that I should have to. I don’t think it is right for society to think that they are ENTITLED to an education, nor do I think that children, rich or poor, should be forced to attend. I think that those who can’t afford an education should be grateful for the charitable kindness of those who reach out to them, and I think that those who have the means should be given the opportunity to serve. Compulsory schools destroy both.

  • Molly March 8, 2013, 8:42 am

    First, can I just say, you made me laugh this Friday morning and I thoroughly enjoyed your post. I am in my first year of home schooling and am enjoying this grand adventure.

    I have a good friend who is an opera singer and who has agreed to come over once a week (depending on her schedule) to sit with my boys for 30 minutes to an hour and introduce her love of music to them, something that I could do but is so much more valuable coming from her. Just the other day, she was complaining about the lack of learning going on in music at her children’s elementary school. Her kids are learning pop songs and doing karaoke.

    Just goes to prove your point. It’s time for parents to take back some responsibility of being parents, a decision they made long ago.

  • Molly March 8, 2013, 8:44 am

    Sounds like you’ve read A Thomas Jefferson Education, yes?

  • KHM March 8, 2013, 1:22 pm

    Heh, If I gave my entire opinion I would probably be laughed off of this board by even the more “reasonable” posters. I graduated from a private university with a major in Biology. My husband did the same in Physics. He also has a graduate degree in Physics. We LOVE science as you can probably tell. Yes the best paying jobs are also in science. However I think public schools have no business teaching science. There are plenty of people who will absolutely never use it and frankly it really doesn’t give you much of an advantage in college anyway. Trivia is easy to learn in any subject. If/when you do get to college you will have the opportunity to learn all relevant high school-level material 2 or 3 more times, probably because public schools teach it so poorly…Reading, Writing and Basic Arithmetic (through Algebra) are really all that is helpful.

    We both (and all four of our parents as well) believed the lie “Do well in school and you will do well in life.” If kids had more free time (tell me how much time an involved honors student has) maybe they could actually get a job and afford to go to the college they worked so hard to get into. Instead they are still paying off their student loans while their own children are in college. I went to a public school, got straight As in high school, took every AP or honors course I possibly could, and easily HALF of my seven+ hours was an absolute waste of time. Literally. That’s not even counting mediocre instruction. A single class of 30 students brings in HUNDREDS of thousands of dollars to a district/school…. Even private schools aren’t a whole lot better simply because the bar really isn’t that high.

    The entire system makes me cry for the kids: the kids like myself who believe the lie, the kids who have no parental involvement because of it, the kids who cannot even legally escape their bullies…

  • CowaBunga March 13, 2013, 3:40 pm

    I will first say that after some deep considerations of what I have read through all of the posts here, I agree with you 100%. Thank you for posting this. I really have nothing to say that has not already been said.

    I do have one question though. Is it possible for homeschoolers to claim any sort of tax deduction in Utah? I have only one child who is one year old. Clearly I have not sent any of my children to public school (and I’m leaning toward never sending them the more I research), yet I see that a large portion of my taxes go to the local school district. I am paying for a public education system that I do not use, and will likely never use (I realize the same could be said of MANY things that my taxes are used for, but the argument stands). This makes no sense to me, and it seems that I should be able to get that money back if I a) have no school-aged children or b) am homeschooling.

    I hope this isn’t polluting your post with tax issues, but I think what the public school system has become is a symptom which is evidence of the corruptness of our entire taxation (redistribution of wealth) system. I’d really rather not be forced to pay for two schooling systems (public and homeschooling) when I’m only using one.

  • Abdul GhaffaR March 23, 2013, 11:12 pm

    If we talk about School level then there are just few students who want to get part in school or class functions but if we move to college level then almost lot of people are ready for this just for enjoyment.

    But for music it is really impressive, Those student that start from school level, in future they become superstars
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  • Todd Moon June 2, 2013, 8:36 pm

    Allison —

    I a late-comer to these comments, having recently clicked through to this blog. I was surprised and taken aback by the headline, especially coming from you. We have shared some common elements in our public school music experience. Have you forgotten what we learned?

    I strongly agree that not all things should be taught at schools. But if you are going to start cutting, it seems that the arts should be among the last to go. And this opinion comes from one who (like your husband) does engineering for a living.

    Among other things, the schools should be about civilizing our children, preparing them to understand and appreciate the best of our Western culture. If they don’t learn music at the schools, most students will learn it from the radio. Where will that lead? How will our western tradition be transmitted — and not just the arts, but the whole history behind it?

    Music has long been considered a foundation of an educated person. It was recommended for education of the masses in Greek times. The quadrivium of classical “liberal” education in the middle ages included music education as one of the “core four.”

    In music, students have a chance to learn that cooperation is a viable way to approach a problem, in addition to (or replacement for) the standard competitive stance that we learn everywhere else in the world. One does not put on a successful play unless the whole crew cooperates and pulls together. The orchestra plays together, or they don’t play. And yes, we put these groups into competition (at music festivals and the like), but that is secondary to the lessons of teamwork and excellence learned.

    The music programs we were involved with were the first time that I ever felt pushed for excellence in the academic program. Enduring kudos to Mr. Sandgren, Mr. Berry, and Mr. Hill, and to the Alpine School district of the day for having the vision to support the programs of these fine musicians. Rather than the individual (and largely selfish) work instead of simply pushing for my own good grades, preparing for a concert was work on a larger, more generous scale.

    In addition to the students artistic outcomes in these classes, students learn discipline, history, scheduling (gotta fit those practices in), and yes, even some math in counting some of those difficult passages. The manual arts, such as painting or sculpture, help develop critically important manual skills.

    And arts can engage and attract students who might otherwise be marginalized, providing motivation and reason to stay in school.

    Several of the programs that are currently supported would probably be unnecessary if the music programs were supported by schools and parents. Some of the mediation necessary now would not be if the arts programs were strong.

    As an engineering educator, I always recommend that students should come to the university prepared with the basics — English, math, physics, chemistry. But a student having only those and no strong arts background arrives at the university less prepared overall, I think, than those who have gone out of their way to pick up some additional skills.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 2, 2013, 10:54 pm

    Hey, Todd. Good to know you are alive and well. 🙂

    [Todd and I went to high school together and sang in A Cappella Choir and Chamber Singers together. If I’m not mistaken he was my Chamber partner in more than a few songs.]

    I don’t disagree at all with your assessment of the importance of music. I hope that was clear from the OP. Was it not?

    I think our fundamental disagreement is in how this “good thing” should be promoted. I simply do not think:

    (1) Public schools — if they exist at all (I’m more Jeffersonian on this than probably anything, thinking that only the few indigent who can NOT provide for their own should be provided for by government) — should be The Source for educating our populace.


    (2) If public schools don’t provide something NO ONE will ever get it (or NOT ENOUGH people will ever get it). This harkens to the never ending government dependence we see today.

    I simply think those ideas are both dead wrong — although I agree that people PERCEIVE they are right.
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