Students need more music education
By: Eric Lafiore, Columnist
Over the summer, I took Music 120 with Dr. Denise Gainey. During one of our lectures, she posed a sentiment that got me thinking. The topic was whether our schools are doing enough to educate students in music, not complicated theory but basic musical knowledge that a youth could intake and, hopefully, have blossom over the years.
There is music education in schools, but mainly in those with middle to upper economic backing and usually in higher grades. You don’t see music classes being included in regular school curriculums, state or nationwide, with math, science, English, etc.
One would assume that the main reason for this emphasis on these certain subjects, and a lack of music education, is monetary. Also, some argue that the core curriculum funded in public and private schools is more vital to job security in the future.
Where does this leave music?
There obviously are musicians, music educators, or both making a living from the principled foundations that are gleaned from music history, theory and practice. As is anything in life, the more one learns, the better equipped one will be to deal with life’s challenges.
As the cliché goes, “With knowledge comes power.” Knowledge also has the capacity to fight off the nasty side effects of ignorance. So, I went back to Dr. Gainey to get more of her thoughts on the issue, along with those of UAB’s Dr. Philip Copeland.
I took away the following from our talk. Music training, in the past, integrated one into society and created an aesthetic experience. Students cannot verbalize what they are hearing, since most mainstream music doesn't challenge the ear (i.e. same words, similar harmonic progressions, etc.).
Unintentionally, educators have created a musically illiterate society, with budget cuts being a major reason. Broadly, today’s music is associated with sex or what's hot in pop culture, rather than beauty.
In certain middle schools, students are exposed to a wide-array of musical options, without focusing too much on any one area in particular. Many students want to be the star but don’t want to put in the work to get to that point.
Fewer students are coming in exhibiting the ability or discipline necessary to play the piano, which is the key root to learning music. Looking at the broader picture, one can argue that music education is needed, whether the audience is elementary children or college seniors.
If students are not able to experience music as much as all the other things that grapple for primacy in today’s world, they truly are missing out.