Archives for June 2015

Why Everyone Must Continue to “Defend” Music Education (Using Any Means Necessary)

en-q4lOnGuo3slPbDoE97TzMv3omZQ-I0_Q7QusJ2OM,DDb2oHX6-MEc_Y-T0DeSD4Spq250_hpRshKKfAGMNiI,saTbQ4_drfu-_1WAYBi14OuTm4w9J-gmNfOunTlRezo,H8RsIToknUHOJDwJMRTtcDptLgFsWpkUlnjzbJD_deMI ran across a piece last week on Huffington Post warning people that they should not advocate for music education using the argument that it helps with academic and test performance, etc.  The author, Peter Greene, even went so far as to say that it was a “tactical error” to defend music in this manner. He believes that if/when testing doesn’t drive educational policies anymore, music will be left hanging out to dry, having latched on to test improvement as its largest selling point.  What was more troublesome than the article itself was the enormous amount of people who agreed with it, as evidenced by the amount of shares and supportive comments left on the blog.

On the surface, there is a lot to agree with in an “art for art’s sake” argument, but with today’s educational and political landscape, this argument alone will not get us to where we want to be:  music as a core part of every child’s school day.

Articles like this are attractive to many.  We all love to huddle up in our ideological corners — it’s comfortable, and we love to talk to people who agree with us;  in turn we exaggerate and stereotype the “other side”.  Ultimately, this was an extreme-viewpoint piece, but because it got so much attention it deserves to be addressed and discussed.

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The Cure for Shrinking Music Programs in Schools? Great Teaching.

Kinhaven 2014-104I become very passionate when writing about school administrators’ lack of awareness of the benefits of instrumental music in school curricula, and how parents can help advocate for programs that their children are involved in.  There is no doubt that music programs all over our nation are constantly in danger of being reduced or cut every budget cycle; many times their fate is in the hands of myopic data-driven bean counters.  Until the pendulum swings away from high stakes testing and towards cultivating creativity in schools, maintaining healthy music programs will always be a battle.

As music advocacy and the pressure on administrators and boards of education to keep music programs alive roars on, there is still a ten thousand pound gorilla in the room:  There needs to be a great teacher in every classroom to carry out the mission of raising the musical bar for all children and creating enduring programs that become mainstays in our school system.  Without great teaching, music education in our schools doesn’t have a chance.

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A Message of Music to the Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools

Kinhaven 2014-54The Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools recently declared that APS will have 18 fewer band and orchestra teaching positions when students return to school in August.  After quite a bit of outcry, Dr. Carstarphen explained her rationale on her blog.  The following letter is an extended version of a comment I left on her blog (which has yet to be approved for public view).

Dear Dr. Carstarphen,

I appreciate you addressing recent rumors stating that Atlanta Public Schools would be eliminating all music programs next school year.  While it is relieving to hear that this will not be happening, it is still disturbing to read that you will be viciously cutting your music programs, in turn altering the course of thousands of children’s lives each year for the foreseeable future of your school system.

While it is understandable that you have the all-too-common fiscal pressures mounting in your schools, I believe that your cuts are short sighted and certainly not in the best of interest of children.  Even though you believe these cuts are of teachers and not programming, if you execute them it will be the beginning of the end of instrumental music in your public schools whether you realize it or not.

Here are 4 reasons why your elementary school cuts are not in the best interests of the families you serve:

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