I bet you hear about that a lot. Whether it’s that a school your child goes to is getting rid of it, or a news article about a school district that’s fighting to keep music education alive, the question always stays the same: will it survive this era of budget cuts and bankrupt school districts, or will it ultimately get cut and wither away?
My name is Wilson Biggs. I’m a freshman at Science Leadership Academy. The contents of this article are not guaranteed to be bias-free, as I am an aspiring electronic musician. However, take everything I say seriously: I have experience in music education and growing up making music.
I, for one, can tell you that music education should begin when you are in preschool. One study conducted in 1997 showed that preschoolers, when taught how to play “Ode to Joy” on the piano, improved their spatial-temporal reasoning skills, which is the ability to mentally manipulate 2- and 3-dimensional objects. In addition, Richard Gill, in a TEDxSydney talk, made points as to why children should learn about music in their younger years.
“Music is important for the following reasons. It is abstract. It doesn’t mean anything outside itself. [...] Music does not describe. Music does not tell stories. Music evokes. Music suggests. Music implies and opens up the mind of a child in an extraordinary way.”
That’s not the only point he makes during his talk, however. He believes that in order to get into the real deep and creative part of music, children must create their own, not just reproduce others’. He states that “the power of creative thought is transfreerd from music to all other areas of learning is hugely potent. [...] Music is worth teaching because it empowers children spectacularly.” From my own experience, when children get the opportunity to make music, they get particularly excited about it. Not because it’s music, but because it’s creating.
When kids are enthusiastic about learning something, they tend to excel in it. And that’s why, in order to cut music costs and to boost how well students do in music classes, technology should be implemented in music programs. In 2005, the International Journal of Education and the Arts published a paper outlining why technology is important in music education. The paper describes the current state of formal music education as “elitist”, and proposes an informal music education centered around computers.
“[A] cross-disciplinary or multimedia approach to musical composition may well engage and motivate pupils more successfully, as well as facilitate the development of their broader creative skills. I have certainly found this to be the case in the three case studies[.]”
This isn’t the only paper that suggests that technology in music education is beneficial; another paper, written by Takako Mato, describes that “there was a significant increase of basic knowledge of the note writing and reading skills necessary for composition in class A [with computers] over class B [without them].” It later describes the results of a test conducted by the Yamaha Corporation, which found that “Long and short term music achievement is significantly increased when compared to traditional approaches and methods.”
For new music programs, incorporating technology shouldn’t be a huge challenge, as either the teacher usually owns a computer or the school district provides computers to the school. A computer, a projector, a small keyboard, and some kind of MIDI sequencing software are all that are needed to implement technology into music programs. I intend to bring music education and technology to schools throughout the school district and possibly to surrounding districts.
Image-Line, the company that publishes FL Studio, might give discount prices for their software for schools that use PCs. All Macs come with the free software Garageband, which works well enough for schools.
To see my bibliography, click here. I hope you will support me as I fight to bring music education and technology to the school district.