This open letter is a message to key decision-makers: our Ministry of Education, our public school boards and their principals, our private schools and their governing boards and directors. Rather than making a hasty and impulsive decision to cut the Arts, consider taking a proactive and data-driven one to keep supporting them.
Our students are in a vulnerable state due to this pandemic. This situational crisis has caused an increase in traumatic levels of anxiety and tensions in families. Our students, more than ever, need an outlet to manage these anxieties and stresses. As music educators, we can help manage these feelings and be stabilizing forces in our students’ lives.
- Numerous studies continue to demonstrate that music and arts instruction support increased performance on academic assignments and test scores.
- As we know, strong reading skills unlock a future of academic success for students. Studies show that rhythm activities boost reading readiness skills in young students, and arts classes lay a foundation of executive functioning and listening skills that are important for early learning.
- Music students perform better when asked to create novel solutions to problems. Divergent thinking and creativity are frequently cited as essential job-readiness skills for tomorrow’s world.
- Music supports brain development to reduce anxiety, focus attention, and control emotions; increases self-esteem – particularly for academically stressed teens, cultivates empathy; cultivates empathy. Studies and reviews even show increased immune function when people are provided musical opportunities.
- Musical experiences appear to connect brain structures that play essential roles in our development and well-being, especially when we are being thrilled to the core, lifted to new heights, or experiencing transcendence over everyday concerns as we sing, play, create, dance, or listen to music.
- Music students have better graduation and attendance rates, and less frequent disciplinary infractions.
- The National Endowment for the Arts compiled research that demonstrates that at-risk youth are uniquely benefited by arts access. At-risk youth who have access to arts education are more likely to attend and succeed in college, find employment, vote, and volunteer.
- The power of music, is a review of empirical evidence relating to the effects of active engagement with music on the intellectual, social and personal development of children and young people. It suggests that the positive effects of engagement with music on personal and social development may only occur if it is an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
Schools are facing budget cuts and these cuts will affect all programs. Our question to you: How will you guarantee that children’s education is not negatively impacted during these trying times? To that end, how will you ensure arts instruction continue to be part of children’s school day – whether it’s in person at school or done remotely on-line.
If you are a school director or educational planner make sure students have access to creative outlets. Mandate that the Arts are provided to all students, regardless of their ability to attend classes at school.
The QMEA Executive
QMEA would like to extend an appreciation to the Cincinnati Music Educators Association for their invaluable input.