Archives for August 2015

The Truth About Why Music is Cut From Schools (and What We Can Do About It)

DSC05922“Public School Cuts Music Programs; Teachers Lose Jobs”

“High School Music Program Slashed”

“Budget Cuts Affect Music and Arts”

We see those headlines in the news all the time.

During every budget cycle, teachers, parents, and music advocates hold their collective breaths hoping cuts will not come down on their programs.  This is because music and the arts are often at the top of the “cut list” — but why is this?  Board of Education members aren’t necessarily “music haters”, and community members (at least on the surface) don’t want to see music leave the school curriculum.  But the cuts keep on coming year after year, and some feel powerless to stop them.

Nevertheless, the cuts are wrong and in many cases are not in the best interest of the systems and the children they serve.  When it comes to budget cuts, schools in other countries and great districts in our country do not cut the arts first.

Here are a few of the main reasons why music is cut from school each year, and some thoughts about how they can be avoided:

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How Students Learn Self-Efficacy Through Instrumental Music Instruction

Kinhaven Digital-329As a parent, one of the best things that I can hope for is that my children have the wherewithal to make their way through life armed with a wide variety of skills and a “can-do” mindset.  As a teacher, school leader, and professor, I have seen way too many young adults who are incapable of navigating their way through “real world” problems, and need someone’s help (usually mine or their parents’) — many times for the smallest things.

Parents protect and handle so much for their children these days that they prevent them from growing into the people they want them to become.  Amongst other things, we do math and english homework for our children and call up teachers when the final grade isn’t to our liking.  Ultimately, however, what we are really doing over time is preventing our children from acquiring “self-efficacy”.

Self-efficacy is defined as having the belief in our abilities to complete a task, reach goals, and manage situations.  The journey towards self-efficacy for my children began when they were born, of course.  But school — and the way I help them (or don’t help them) navigate school — is where self-efficacy can truly be learned.

While every subject has its own peripheral life lessons, instrumental music instruction is one of the most incredible ways to learn skills that lead to self-efficacy, and parents would be wise to ensure that their children experience this instruction in their K-12 schooling.

Here are ways that learning to play an instrument builds self-efficacy:

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How Parents Can “Reboot” Their Child’s Interest in Playing a Musical Instrument After Taking Summer Off

Kinhaven 2014-545Most parents and students start the summer with the best intentions as far as instrumental music practice is concerned.  Some families choose to rent their instrument for the summer months and not return it to the store/school.  Some even buy a new instrument at the end of the school year as a gift to their child, hoping it serves as a motivational tool for the upcoming summer months.  And many families return the rental instrument and take the entire summer off playing.

Either way, school is about to start — and quitting musical studies should not be an option.  Most students quit at the end of the summer, especially if they think they have lost their skills.  Picking up an instrument for the first time after a long layoff can be so frustrating that a student will not want to continue into the next school year.

It doesn’t need to be this way!

It’s easy to get your child back into playing shape so that they start the school year off with confidence and excitement to make music all over again.

Here are some tips to go from “out-of-shape” to “playing ready” in no time:

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A Beginning-of-Year Welcome Letter to New Music Parents

Kinhaven 2014-241Dear Parents:

It is with great excitement that I welcome your family to our instrumental music program!

Learning to play a musical instrument and acquiring the unique habits of mind that come with it is one of the most incredible opportunities that our school can offer your child.  The instrument that will be placed in your childs’ hands has the power to transform their lives in ways that no other endeavor can.  In addition to musical accomplishments, this year your child will learn to :

  • Be patient and persistent with difficult tasks;
  • Delay gratification by working in order to sound better;
  • Develop curiosity, problem solve, and cultivate grit.

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