3 Awful Things That Happen When Children are Denied Daily Arts Instruction in Schools

Kinhaven 2014-316Regardless of the social and economic circumstances of our time, the arts have an essential place in the balanced education of our children.

In all the education discussion I hear and the literature I read, the arts are consistently given little to no attention.  At the same time, a large portion of our population is tired of having to plead to make the case for arts in schools.  We all want an education system that delivers a broad-based curriculum that takes into account the continuing and varied needs of our children — not a system obsessed with academic learning alone.

While many in our world still think that the arts are for a chosen few and that “artists” are simply “born that way”, I believe that our narrowed thinking of creativity is more due to a lack of contact time of creative subjects in schools.  To get people to think about the issue of arts in a child’s school life, I start with a basic question:  What would happen if any subject was delivered only once a week in school?  And doesn’t that mean that there aren’t more creative people in our world simply because we do not cultivate that creativity in school on a daily basis?

Here are three awful truths about the adverse effects from a lack of arts in schools has on our children:

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Why Your Musical Instrument Demonstration Means Everything to Your School’s Program

unspecifiedThere is no more exciting or important time in a child’s musical life than the day they choose which instrument they want to learn to play in school.  More often than not, this choice occurs on a day where the instruments of the band and orchestra are introduced to students during an assembly or some other format.

In order to ignite the proper spark in students, it’s crucial that their first exposure to instruments that are offered is well planned and extremely well executed.  The more thought and preparation that goes in to the presentation, the more rewarding the musical experience will be for years to come for students, parents and teachers.

The instrument demonstration is also a unique opportunity for children, teachers, and professional musicians to come together in mutually beneficial ways — this “trifecta” of arts immersion is the key to a successful school arts programs.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when introducing instruments to children on a “recruiting day”:

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A Recruitment Letter to Potential Music Parents’ Association (Booster) Members

Kinhaven 2014-112

Dear Families: As our school year comes to a close, we want to congratulate you on embarking on what we hope is just one of many years of your child's (and your own) musical journey. Perhaps you were thinking that this year may be your last as … [Continue reading]

3 Reasons Music and Arts Education is a Shining Light in a School System that Values “Sameness”

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Somehow, some way, our school system has become completely standardized -- yet our children are anything but that. Instead of valuing children as individuals, our school system has designed itself to measure children against one thing -- an … [Continue reading]

3 Ways It Takes a Community to Develop Great Music Program

I have had the pleasure of meeting thousands of music educators while speaking at our nation's music educator conventions this year. These teachers all are consistently and passionately engaged in looking for ways to develop themselves as educators … [Continue reading]

3 Ways Music Instruction in Schools Teaches Grit (and Why Children Need it So Badly Now)

Kinhaven 2014-112

The "self-esteem movement" in this country is coming to an end.  We have learned that giving a trophy to all kids just for participating hasn't worked, and -- even worse -- has undermined the natural grit that our nation is built upon. We are also … [Continue reading]

Why Music Education is Not Prepared (Yet) to Lead Whole School Reform

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As sure as the sun rises and sets, every few years our government rolls out a new brand of education reform.  Some legislation is epic (NCLB, anyone?); other laws "chip away" at our education system in small chunks. The Every Student Succeeds Act … [Continue reading]

4 Things Holding Middle Schools Back From A Rich Arts Curriculum

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While there are some middle schools in our nation where the arts are a well-established cornerstone of curricula, there are far too many schools that provide little or no offerings.  Although there are many challenges and constraints that can affect … [Continue reading]

3 Reasons Why Now — More Than Ever — America Needs Music in its Schools

Kinhaven 2014-319

For the first time ever, music is now cited in federal statute as a stand-alone subject in schools. The timing could not be better.  After all, provision for the arts in school curricula should be a no-brainer requirement of a well-rounded … [Continue reading]

A Lost Art: The Power of Solitude Through Music Instruction in Schools


As a public school music supervisor, I saw firsthand the shift in our education system toward an emphasis on "constant student engagement" in the classroom.  To this day, there still is this push to keep students busy from the moment class begins to … [Continue reading]