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Music Advocacy

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Music Advocacy
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Findings released this week from three years of studies by neuroscientists and psychologists at seven universities help amplify scientists’ understanding of how training in the arts might contribute to improving the general thinking skills of children and adults.  “We tend to think of the artist, on the one hand, and scientists and mathematicians, on the other, as fundamentally different people,” said Elizabeth S. Spelke, one of the scholars who took part in the research project. “I think the work done here suggests a much closer connection between the cognitive processes that give rise to the arts and the cognitive processes that give rise to the sciences.”
The idea that the arts, and music in particular, could make children smarter in other ways gained currency in the 1990s, after a pair of researchers published a study showing that college students performed better on some mathematical tests after listening to a 10- minute Mozart sonata.  The news led to some widely reported, if fleeting, efforts to promote music learning. Georgia legislators, in fact, even voted to provide parents of newborns with tapes of classical music.  But most neuroscientists viewed such policy moves as premature: The studies never definitively determined whether exposure to music, or other arts, causes changes in the brain that sharpen other kinds of thinking skills. Left unsettled, experts say, is whether the arts make people smarter or whether smart people simply gravitate to the arts.
Burying Myths
In an effort to get at that question in a more comprehensive, systematic way, the Dana Foundation of New York City in 2004 brought together neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists from seven universities to launch a broad program of studies looking at how experience in dance, music, theater, and visual arts might spill over into other areas of learning, and to explore possible mechanisms for those links in the anatomy of the brain— even at the genetic level.  The final report from that $2.1 million effort was unveiled at a March 3 conference at the center’s Washington headquarters.  While the report still doesn’t provide any definitive answers to the arts-makes-you-smarter question, it sounds a final death knell to the myth that students are either right- or left-brained learners, say the scientists involved in the study. It also offers hints on how arts learning might conceivably spill over into other academic domains.
The research team at Stanford University, for instance, studied the development of reading fluency in 49 children between ages 7 and 12. They found that the students who came to the study with more musical training tended to make faster gains in reading fluency than did students with no musical backgrounds.  The researchers also used brain scans and newly developed software technology to study the corpus callosum, the part of the brain linking the left and right hemispheres, as the children grew. They found that the “white matter” pathways responsible for phonological awareness—the ability to pull apart and manipulate the sounds in speech—grew to be more highly developed in the children who were stronger readers than in those with weaker reading skills.
“We think these things all go together,” said Brian Wandell, who led the Stanford study. “Listening carefully to other sounds has long been thought to be important to the development of phonological awareness and reading fluency.  ”But until now, few or no longitudinal studies backed up that connection, Mr.Wandell added.  In a finding that surprised them, the Stanford researchers also found preliminary evidence suggesting a link between visual-arts lessons outside of school and children’s skill at math calculations, possibly because both activities involve recognizing patterns.
Paying Attention
In her study, Ms. Spelke, a psychology professor at Harvard University who usually studies the basic understandings that babies bring into the world, attempts to peel back the layers on the “Mozart effect” with three experiments involving children and adults.  She found that middle and high school students who studied music intensively, typically because they were enrolled in special schools for the arts, were better than students with little or no musical training at tasks involving basic geometric skills, but not at tasks involving other kinds of fundamental mathematical systems, such as basic number representation.
Other studies in the mix also suggest a link between music training and skill at manipulating information in both longterm and working memory; between music learning and speaking fluency in second-language learning; and dance and the ability to learn by observing movement.  Training in acting, the study also found, also appears to lead to memory improvement. One way that arts learning might lead to improved thinking skills, hypothesized Michael Posner, a professor emeritus at the University of Oregon in Eugene and an adjunct psychology professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., might be in motivating students to pay attention.  “We know that if you train attention, then you’ll be more successful at various cognitive tasks,” he added.
Some of the researchers also identified genes that might play a role in predisposing children toward an interest in the arts.  “It’s an important first step, but what we really need are experimental studies with large samples,” said Ellen Winner, a psychology professor at Boston College who studies arts learning but was not part of the Dana Consortium. “We can’t conclude anything about causality from correlational studies,” she added.
Only one of the studies, in fact, involved a randomized study directly related to arts learning. Researchers at the University of Oregon, led by Helen Neville, a professor of psychology and neuroscience, randomly assigned 88 children taking part in the federal Head Start program for disadvantaged preschoolers to a variety of different learning groups.  One group of 26 children met in small groups with teachers for music-related activities. Another group of 19 children received class-wide Head Start instruction, while another, similar-sized group got the same instruction in smaller teacher-pupil groups. A fourth group of 23 children received small-group instruction in focusing attention and becoming aware of details.  All the special classes were 40 minutes long and took place four days a week.
Spatial skills and other nonverbal IQ skills did improve in the music students over the course of the eight-week study, but that was also true for the children who got attention training and the Head Start children who worked in small groups. Only the children in the large Head Start class failed to make any progress in those areas.  Those results, the researchers conclude, “may derive from the fact that music training typically involves time being individually tutored, or being in a small group, which may itself increase opportunities for training attention.”
Nonetheless, arts advocates and many of the researchers taking part in the project see the report’s overall findings as important fodder for ongoing efforts to dissuade schools from dropping arts instruction in the face of pressure under the federal No Child Left Behind law to raise students’ test scores in mathematics, reading, and science.  “What we are seeing here is that we have quantitative data that confirm our assumptions about the interrelationships in the way children learn,” said poet Dana Gioia, the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, at the Dana conference. “And the purpose of education is to realize the full human potential of every child.”
Coverage of education research is sponsored in part by a grant from the Spencer Foundation.
Vol. 27, Issue 27, Pages 1,10-11-69 lol ;)

    We know that band students represent the top of the academic scale in our schools. We know they are averaging 62 points higher on SAT tests, which would indicate they are stronger in verbal and math scores than other members of the student body. We also know band students are the ones who enjoy a successful high school career, go on to college, and become the leaders in our society. There is a definite link between the top achiever academically and the band student. They are one and the same.   In many respects, band is a microcosm of our society. It demands high levels of responsibility, social skills, ongoing communication, analytical talents, and the important ability to work with others. Simply put, learning a musical instrument and continuing to explore the limitless possibilities of music provide an excellent preparation for life.
In The Arts: An Essential Ingredient in Education, J. Buchen Milley states that "research shows that when arts are included in the student's curriculum, reading, writing and math scores improve." Like all arts, music has a profound effect on the academic success of the student.  Band is a group effort. Members are required to shift from an I/Me reasoning to a We/Us concept. This means extending oneself beyond the normal considerations of much of our day-to-day living. Instead of the logic being, what's in it for me, it becomes, what's in it for us? The values of cooperation, communication, concentration, correlation, and completion come into play each rehearsal and performance.  Band builds positive self-worth. Although we share many similarities with our athletic counterparts, BAND is a place for everyone. Rarely is a person serving as an alternate or substitute. Everyone in the band plays a starting role.  Music is one of the few academic disciplines that requires the student to master skills and apply them in performance. In other words, music involves multiple forms of learning.
Studies by the College Entrance Examination Board show that:
"New research on intelligence and brain function point in exciting future directions that tie directly to music, while the continuing use of music as part of the curriculum is clearly associated with both academic skills and personal characteristics that are highly desirable for school progress and for developing the kind of well-educated young people we know we need for the nation's well-being."
Students (1993) with experience in music performance scored measurably higher in both the verbal and math sections of the Standardized Achievement Test (22 points above the mean on verbal and 18 points above the mean on math).  There continues to be a significant (and growing) spread between the scores obtained by musicians and those of their non-musical counterparts.
The correlation between cognitive learning and musical understanding continues to prove they are linked, and improving one will develop the other. In fact, music is suspected to be the key for unlocking the scientific mind.  The theory of "multiple intelligences" tags music as one of the separate minds, and being exposed to music strengthens all other learning forms.  Scores rise proportionately higher with the length of time spent studying music in school.   
Why Music Education Is Important
When educational cuts are made, music and art are amongst the first subjects to go. Unfortunately, it means that parents, educators and even board members are overlooking each subject`s importance. Music education is more than just introducing students to beats, notes and songs. Instead, it completely transforms a child`s mind and opens up endless possibilities to their learning potential.  One of the most notable studies on music and the brain, the Mozart Effect, began as a college research experiment. College students were given the chance to listen to ten minutes of a piano sonata before completing a test. The assessment involved tasks such as finding the patterns in both numbers and objects. The result showed that with just ten minutes of music, their skills were improved greatly.
After seeing these results, the study was extended to pre-schoolers. Some were given the opportunity to listen to ten minutes of similar music before completing a puzzle. Again, those listening to music before the task tended to perform better. Each of these examples suggests that music can have a direct effect on a person`s learning.  These studies are not unusual. Several studies and surveys have demonstrated that students` academic scores in subjects, such as math, were greatly improved when they were able to participate in some form of music education program. In other subjects, it was noted that students are less likely to draw conclusions that were completely unfounded.
While listening to music is beneficial, music education provides even more benefits to students. The ear is not the only part of the body used in music class. From tapping out patterns of sounds with their hands to testing out an instrument, students are working on hand-eye coordination. This becomes even more pronounced as students look to read music and perform the notes with various instruments.
While there are several different subjects offered in school, few can compete with the creative element offered by music education. Students have an outlet in which they can express themselves. They can relate to the words, notes or instruments they are experiencing. Many teachers, students and parents would admit that music, along with the traditional means of education, gives a good feeling they carry with them throughout the day.  Besides academics and specific subjects, students with music education tend to completely change their outlook on education, learning and their own performance. They see the experience as more beneficial and even see themselves as more successful because of their newfound skills. In one study, students who worked on a musical instrument were less of a discipline issue than those that did not.
With all the evidence pointing to the benefits of music education, it is difficult to see why this subject continues to be downplayed and in some cases completely removed from education today. If you, or someone you know, is looking into musical education as a college major, consult a college advice blog to get the latest information on your options as an educator and advocate for music.

  1. “During the Gulf War, the few opportunities I had for relaxation I always listened to music, 
  and it brought me great peace of mind. I have shared my love of music with people   throughout this world, while listening to the drums and special instruments of the Far East,   Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Far North, and all of this started with the music   appreciation course that I was taught in a third-grade elementary class in Princeton, New   Jersey. What a tragedy it would be if we lived in a world where music was not taught to   children.”- General H. Norman Schwarzkopf - United States Army
2. “Music is exciting. It is thrilling to be sitting in a group of musicians playing (more or less) the same piece of music. You are part of a great, powerful, vibrant entity. And nothing beats the feeling you get when you've practiced a difficult section over and over and finally get it right. (yes, even on the wood block!) Music is important. It says things you heart can't say any other way, and in a language everyone speaks. Music crosses borders, turns smiles into frowns, and vice versa. These observations are shared with a hope: that, when schools cut back on music classes, they really think about what they're doing - and don't take music for granted.” - Dan Rather — CBS News
3. “In every successful business…there is one budget line that never gets cut. It’s called ‘Product Development’ – and it’s the key to any company’s future growth. Music education is critical to the product development of this nation’s most important resource – our children.” - John Sykes — President, VH1
4. “The things I learned from my experience in music in school are discipline, perseverance, dependability, composure, courage and pride in results. . . Not a bad preparation for the workforce!” -- Gregory Anrig – President, Educational Testing Service

5. “Music is an essential part of everything we do. Like puppetry, music has an abstract quality which speaks to a worldwide audience in a wonderful way that nourishes the soul.”  -Jim Henson – television producer and puppeteer
6. “Should we not be putting all our emphasis on reading, writing and math? The ‘back-to-basics curricula,’ while it has merit, ignores the most urgent void in our present system – absence of self-discipline. The arts, inspiring – indeed requiring – self-discipline, may be more ‘basic’ to our nation survival than traditional credit courses. Presently, we are spending 29 times more on science than on the arts, and the result so far is worldwide intellectual embarrassment.”  - Paul Harvey – syndicated radio show host

7. “It's [music education] terribly important, extremely important -- because when you are a child, you are in a receptive age ... In high schools, public schools -- that's where they must have the best influence, the first influence, which will go through their whole life.” b - Eugene Ormandy – conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra
8. “It is our job, as parents, educators, and friends, to see that our young people have the opportunity to attain the thorough education that will prepare them for the future. Much of that education takes place in the classroom. We must encourage our youngsters in such pursuits as music education. In addition to learning the valuable lesson that it takes hard work to achieve success, no matter what the arena, music education can provide students with a strong sense of determination, improved communication skills, and a host of other qualities essential for successful living.”  - Edward H. Rensi – President and Chief Operation Officer, U.S.A. McDonald's Corporation
9. “A grounding in the arts will help our children to see; to bring a uniquely human perspective to science and technology. In short, it will help them as they grow smarter to also grow wiser.”  - Robert E. Allen – Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, AT&T Corporation
10. “Some people think music education is a privilege, but I think it’s essential to being human.”  - Jewel – singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist

1. A 2000 Georgia Tech study indicates that a student who participates in at least one college elective music course is 4.5 times more likely to stay in college than the general student population.
- Dr. Denise C. Gardner, Effects of Music Courses on Retention, Georgia Tech, 2000.
2. On the 1999 SAT, music students continued to outperform their non-arts peers, scoring 61 points higher on the verbal portion and 42 points higher on the math portion of the exam.
- Steven M. Demorest and Steven J. Morrison, “Does Music Make You Smarter?,”Music 
Educators Journal, September, 2000.
3. Students who participate in All-State ensembles consistently score over 200 points higher on the SAT than non-music students. This figure indicates that students can pursue excellence in music while also excelling academically.
- Texas Music Educators Association, 1988-1996.
4. Students with good rhythmic performance ability can more easily detect and differentiate between patterns in math, music, science, and the visual arts.
- “Rhythm seen as key to man’s evolutionary development,” TCAMS Professional Resource 
Center, 2000.
5. Students in arts programs are more likely to try new things, and they can better express their own ideas to friends, teachers, and parents.
- Champions of Change, the President’s Council on the Arts and Humanities, 1999.
6. College students majoring in music achieve scores higher than students of all other majorson college reading exams.
- Carl Hartman, “Arts May Improve Students’ Grades,” The Associated Press, October, 1999.
7. Music students demonstrate less test anxiety and performance anxiety than students who do not study music.
- “College-Age Musicians Emotionally Healthier than Non-Musician Counterparts,” Houston 
Chronicle, 1998.
8. The average scores achieved by music students on the 1999 SAT increased for every year of musical study. This same trend was found in SAT scores of previous years.
- Steven M. Demorest and Steven J. Morrison, “Does Music Make You Smarter?,” Music 
Educators Journal, September, 2000.
9. A majority of the engineers and technical designers in Silicon Valley are also practicing musicians.
- The Case for Sequential Music Education in the Core Curriculum of the Public Schools, Center 
for the Arts in the Basic Curriculum, 1997.
10. Nine out of ten people with instrumental music experience are glad that they have learned to play an instrument.
- “Music Ed Survey,” Giles Communications, 2000.

"Art does not solve problems, but makes us aware of their existence," sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz has said. Arts education, on the other hand, does solve problems. Years of research show that it's closely linked to almost everything that we as a nation say we want for our children and demand from our schools: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity.
Involvement in the arts is associated with gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal skill. Arts learning can also improve motivation, concentration, confidence, and teamwork. A 2005 report by the Rand Corporation about the visual arts [1] argues that the intrinsic pleasures and stimulation of the art experience do more than sweeten an individual's life -- according to the report, they "can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing," creating the foundation to forge social bonds and community cohesion. And strong arts programming in schools helps close a gap that has left many a child behind: From Mozart for babies to tutus for toddlers to family trips to the museum, the children of affluent, aspiring parents generally get exposed to the arts whether or not public schools provide them. Low-income children, often, do not. "Arts education enables those children from a financially challenged background to have a more level playing field with children who have had those enrichment experiences,'' says Eric Cooper, president and founder of the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education [2].
It has become a mantra in education that No Child Left Behind, with its pressure to raise test scores, has reduced classroom time devoted to the arts (and science, social studies, and everything else besides reading and math). Evidence supports this contention -- we'll get to the statistics in a minute -- but the reality is more complex. Arts education has been slipping for more than three decades, the result of tight budgets, an ever-growing list of state mandates that have crammed the classroom curriculum, and a public sense that the arts are lovely but not essential.
This erosion chipped away at the constituencies that might have defended the arts in the era of NCLB -- children who had no music and art classes in the 1970s and 1980s may not appreciate their value now. "We have a whole generation of teachers and parents who have not had the advantage of arts in their own education,'' says Sandra Ruppert, director of the Arts Education Partnership [3] (AEP), a national coalition of arts, business, education, philanthropic, and government organizations. 
Yet against this backdrop, a new picture is emerging. Comprehensive, innovative arts initiatives are taking root in a growing number of school districts. Many of these models are based on new findings in brain research and cognitive development, and they embrace a variety of approaches: using the arts as a learning tool (for example, musical notes to teach fractions); incorporating arts into other core classes (writing and performing a play about, say, slavery); creating a school environment rich in arts and culture (Mozart in the hallways every day) and hands-on arts instruction. Although most of these initiatives are in the early stages, some are beginning to rack up impressive results. This trend may send a message to schools focused maniacally, and perhaps counterproductively, on reading and math.
"If they're worried about their test scores and want a way to get them higher, they need to give kids more arts, not less," says Tom Horne, Arizona's state superintendent of public instruction. "There's lots of evidence that kids immersed in the arts do better on their academic tests." 
Education policies almost universally recognize the value of arts. Forty-seven states have arts-education mandates, forty-eight have arts-education standards, and forty have arts requirements for high school graduation, according to the 2007-08 AEP state policy database. The Goals 2000 Educate America Act [4], passed in 1994 to set the school-reform agenda of the Clinton and Bush administrations, declared art to be part of what all schools should teach. NCLB, enacted in 2001, included art as one of the ten core academic subjects of public education, a designation that qualified arts programs for an assortment of federal grants.
In a 2003 report, "The Complete Curriculum: Ensuring a Place for the Arts and Foreign Languages in American's Schools," [5] a study group from the National Association of State Boards of Education noted that a substantial body of research highlights the benefits of arts in curriculum and called for stronger emphasis on the arts and foreign languages. As chairman of the Education Commission of the States [6] from 2004 to 2006, Mike Huckabee, then governor of Arkansas, launched an initiative designed, according to commission literature, to ensure every child has the opportunity to learn about, enjoy, and participate directly in the arts.
Top-down mandates are one thing, of course, and implementation in the classroom is another. Whatever NCLB says about the arts, it measures achievement through math and language arts scores, not drawing proficiency or music skills. It's no surprise, then, that many districts have zeroed in on the tests. A 2006 national survey by the Center on Education Policy [7], an independent advocacy organization in Washington, DC, found that in the five years after enactment of NCLB, 44 percent of districts had increased instruction time in elementary school English language arts and math while decreasing time spent on other subjects. A follow-up analysis, released in February 2008, showed that 16 percent of districts had reduced elementary school class time for music and art -- and had done so by an average of 35 percent, or fifty-seven minutes a week.
Some states report even bleaker numbers. In California, for example, participation in music courses dropped 46 percent from 1999-2000 through 2000-04, while total school enrollment grew nearly 6 percent, according to a study by the Music for All Foundation [8]. The number of music teachers, meanwhile, declined 26.7 percent. In 2001, the California Board of Education [9] set standards at each grade level for what students should know and be able to do in music, visual arts, theater, and dance, but a statewide study in 2006, by SRI International [10], found that 89 percent of K-12 schools failed to offer a standards-based course of study in all four disciplines. Sixty-one percent of schools didn't even have a full-time arts specialist.
Nor does support for the arts by top administrators necessarily translate into instruction for kids. For example, a 2005 report in Illinois found almost no opposition to arts education among principals and district superintendents, yet there were large disparities in school offerings around the state.
In many districts, the arts have suffered so long that it will take years, and massive investment, to turn things around. New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has made arts education a priority in his school reform plans, and the city has launched sweeping initiatives to connect more students with the city's vast cultural resources. Nearly every school now offers at least some arts instruction and cultural programming, yet in 2007-08, only 45 percent of elementary schools and 33 percent of middle schools provided education in all four required art forms, according to an analysis by the New York City Department of Education [11], and only 34 percent of high schools offered students the opportunity to exceed the minimum graduation requirement.
Yet some districts have made great strides toward not only revitalizing the arts but also using them to reinvent schools. The work takes leadership, innovation, broad partnerships, and a dogged insistence that the arts are central to what we want students to learn.
In Dallas, for example, a coalition of arts advocates, philanthropists, educators, and business leaders have worked for years to get arts into all schools, and to get students out into the city's thriving arts community. Today, for the first time in thirty years, every elementary student in the Dallas Independent School District [12] receives forty-five minutes a week of art and music instruction. In a February 2007 op-ed piece in the Dallas Morning News, Gigi Antoni, president and CEO of Big Thought [13], the nonprofit partnership working with the district, the Wallace Foundation [14], and more than sixty local arts and cultural institutions, explained the rationale behind what was then called the Dallas Arts Learning Initiative [15]: "DALI was created on one unabashedly idealistic, yet meticulously researched, premise -- that students flourish when creativity drives learning." 
The Minneapolis and Chicago communities, too, are forging partnerships with their vibrant arts and cultural resources to infuse the schools with rich comprehensive, sustainable programs -- not add-ons that come and go with this year's budget or administrator.
In Arizona, Tom Horne, the state superintendant of public instruction, made it his goal to provide high-quality, comprehensive arts education to all K-12 students. Horne, a classically trained pianist and founder of the Phoenix Baroque Ensemble, hasn't yet achieved his objective, but he has made progress: He pushed through higher standards for arts education, appointed an arts specialist in the state Department of Education, and steered $4 million in federal funds under NCLB to support arts integration in schools throughout the state. Some have restored art and music after a decade without them.
"When you think about the purposes of education, there are three," Horne says. "We're preparing kids for jobs. We're preparing them to be citizens. And we're teaching them to be human beings who can enjoy the deeper forms of beauty. The third is as important as the other two."
Fran Smith is a contributing editor for Edutopia

1.       Show an interest in the music study of your child.
2.       Arrange a regular time for your child to practice.
3.       Find a quiet place where he can practice without interruption.
4.       Help him with his practice as much as possible by counting, studying music texts, etc.
5.       Help the student keep a daily record of her practice.
6.       Give him a safe place to keep his instrument.
7.       Keep the instrument in good repair with reeds, mutes, etc. Every student should have their own   metronome.
8.       Be very careful with school-owned instruments.  The cost of  repairs is very high.
9.       Help your child to be prepared and on time for each rehearsal and lesson.
10.     Even though private study is not required, it is strongly recommended as an extension of the   classroom.
11.     Make faithful attendance at all activities important.
12.    Encourage your child to play for others when the opportunity arises, in the home, at school, 
church and in the community.
1.      Keep a record of the students various musical activities.
2.      Notify the teacher if the student is to be absent or tardy at lessons, rehearsals, etc., and explain  why.
3.      See that he takes his instrument and music to school.
4.      Teach him to be punctual at lessons at rehearsals.
5.      See that your child keeps up with classroom studies and makes up work he missed.
6.      Visit rehearsals and lessons occasionally.
7.      Discuss with your music teachers anything that will help them to better understand your child.
8.      Attend concerts and other performances whenever possible.
9.      Attend Band Booster meetings whenever possible.
10.    Volunteer for parent committees.
11.    Purchase band sweatshirts, hats, etc., and wear them to all band functions.