Friday, October 20, 2006
Music In Our Schools
When I was in the fourth grade, I started violin lessons at school. You couldn't start a band instrument until fifth grade, to give the less popular orchestra instruments a chance. In fifth grade, I started flute lessons in school, which continued until I graduated. For a time, I also took private flute lessons (That poor woman! I never practiced.). I also took drum lessons for a brief time. In high school, I was in the regular chorus, Vestal Voices (select chorus), concert band, jazz band (drums), marching band and field band. Yep, I was a bandie. It was a great way for a shy person like me to make friends and feel accepted. I really, really enjoyed my band experience - we even got to go to Florida once for a competition there. Twenty-five years out, my strongest high school memories are of band. It was a blast to go to competitions, do halftime shows, etc. I didn't care if it was geeky - it was so much fun! So it saddens me that music programs are being cut in favor of "gut" courses - science, math, etc. I know that those courses are very important. But I think I learned more of what matters in band - how to work with other people, how to handle failure (losing competitions), and, most importantly, the sheer joy of doing something you really love. I hope that educators will see that, for kids who don't excel in the classroom, music can be a chance to really shine in something - even if you're not that good at whatever instrument you play, it's still fun to do.