5/18/2007 8:54:00 AM Editorial Benefits of school music go beyond the band room
With schools everywhere faced with tough budget decisions and continually forced to do more with less, it's encouraging to see music returning to Palestine High School.
Adding band and chorus as an option for high-school students for the 2007-08 school year, which the Unit 3 board approved Monday night, will give students a chance to discover and develop unknown talents, and give students who may not excel in any other area a chance to do so.
But the benefits of school music programs, and arts programs in general, go far beyond that. Here are just a few revealing statistics compiled recently by the music department of a Missouri school district from various studies and reports:
Musicians are more likely to graduate from college and own a home.
Music students score higher in math, science and reading.
Music students are shown in surveys to have higher self-esteem.
Students who participate in band show the lowest lifetime and current use of controlled substances.
Almost all of the top engineers and technical designers in Silicon Valley industries are practicing musicians.
Students who can be classified as "disruptive" (truancy, suspensions, discipline issues, dropping out) total more than 12 percent of the total school population. Only eight percent of students in music classes met the same criteria.
Students in arts programs showed significant increases in thinking skills.
And the list goes on. Music education, while it is not a "cure-all" for the challenges schools and their students face today, and while it does not have the same impact on every student, certainly goes a long way toward creating an environment where the arts are taken seriously. And while music and arts programs are generally (and regrettably) not considered part of schools' "core" curriculum of reading, math and science, their availability enhances students' performance in all of those areas and more.
It was noted Monday night that PHS may have to "start small," and it was good to see board members and administrators buying in to that vision. There are undoubtedly a lot of creative ways to do so. But when the schools, students and parents begin seeing the positive impact created by the return of the music program, it's a good bet that the program won't stay small for long.