Why should I support music study?

A comprehensive, sequential program of music study not only increases our enjoyment of music; it also gives us fuller access to our civilization and engages our minds. Without the rich experience of music and the understanding that comes of its study, the individual life is less complete, and our culture becomes a little more alien, a little frailer, and a little poorer.

Music study. Think about it. It’s an education for life.

Five no-nonsense reasons you should support music study.
  1. Music study is intrinsically worthwhile and a thing of profound beauty — a field with its own unique body of knowledge and skills. It is the work of our civilization, and therefore is to be cultivated.
  2. A good education helps convert “brains to minds,” and the systematic study of music is a vital part of that process. It teaches mental discipline, creative problem-solving, attentiveness, reflection, and curiosity — qualities that animate us as individuals and are sought after in a cultivated mind.
  3. Music study promotes a cultural awareness, which is essential if individuals are to become strong contributors to their society. The greater our investment in young minds and the more access we provide to our culture, the more likely that society will be repaid in the form of individual accomplishment.
  4. Music study is not just for the gifted or privileged. Its availability is a matter of individual intellectual freedom and development, both of which are essential to an active democracy and a vital musical culture. Music study enables us to make personal distinctions; to describe, interpret, and evaluate independently; and to make informed decisions about the music we like. This “independence of mind” is something we as Americans value, cultivate in other fields, and should likewise treasure in music study.
  5. Music study provides unique opportunities for self-expression and creativity, thus encouraging a sense of grounding in an essential human experience. In a highly technological, materialistic society, we need the special pleasures that music can provide to help us establish the quality of our survival in a world preoccupied with quantity.

What you can do.

Be active. Think about picking up that instrument you haven’t played in years or of taking that program in music study. And if you currently study music or perform, keep it up. Don’t allow your skills and the enjoyment they can provide to slip away.

Encourage your children to take music lessons — and to stick with them. Remind them that nothing learned comes instantly; it takes time and practice to develop an ability that will last a lifetime.

Learn more about what your child’s music teacher is doing. Make it known that you expect a strong, sequential program of study — then show the respect that any teacher deserves for a job will done.

Take the time to help create a climate of support for music study in your community. Urge that good programs be developed and properly funded, and that opportunities for learning be encouraged both within and outside the schools. Listen to what music teachers and musicians involved in the education community have to say about your community’s needs and opportunities, then act accordingly. Finally, work to promote music study through the social, business, and civic groups of which you are a member.

Knowledge is power.

Every family, every society, every civilization endows its members with particular kinds of knowledge in order to survive and thrive. In this respect, knowledge is power.

When we empower our children with the particular knowledge of music study, we give them four gifts: the gift of their own civilization, the gift of expression, the gift of understanding, and the gift of new horizons.

In short, we give them a place in the banquet table of our culture and the power to experience a fuller life.

Imagine where we would be without such gifts. Without the voice of music or the ability to understand its language, we would travel down the years in silence; and the most complex and beautiful trace of our presence — something to show that we were here — would go unmarked, unnoted, and unanswered.

Used by Permission of the Foundation for the Advancement of Education in Music.

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