Why We Shouldn’t Cut Music Education Programs in Schools

Music is a universal language and there is so much power in music. It does it do so much good in the world, like bring people together and make others feel certain emotions. Yet, music education programs are at risk of being defunded or even removed entirely. Why is that?

There’s so much emphasis on subjects like science, math and writing in schools that the arts are being completely ignored. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the total state funding for public schools in 31 states was lower in the 2014 school year than it was prior to the 2008 recession. Because of low funding from the government, many schools resort to cutting away programs that some may deem “unnecessary” such as the arts, including music education programs. This is unfortunate because of the many benefits music education has on a child’s performance in school as well as on their health and well-being.

I am a musician who is a product of music education programs in my schools. I learned how to play euphonium and trombone in Pines Middle School’s band program. Not only did I make some amazing friends during my time there, but music taught me a lot of great skills that I still use in my life today.

The Benefits of Music Education

According to the National Association for Music Education, one of the benefits of learning how to play an instrument in school is that it teaches students discipline. Learning an instrument requires a lot of time, commitment and practice. Setting aside the time to practice my scales or a piece I was playing for our band competition taught me how to dedicate my time to achieve a specific goal.

Another benefit of music education programs is that it keeps students engaged in school. Personally, my favorite school subject was music. Every day I would look forward to my Symphonic Band and Jazz Band ensembles because not only did I get to see my friends, but I was able to practice my instrument with people who shared the same interest as me – music.

Music also teaches the importance of teamwork. When a musician performs in an ensemble, they must rehearse with the other members of the group in order to make sure that they all work together. This means playing in the same key, time signature and other factors. This also goes back to the discipline that music teaches students – musicians must be patient when working with others in order to achieve the outcome of performing beautiful music together.

According to the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation, music and math are related. Recognizing patterns by understanding musical aspects like beats, rhythm and scales can aid students when learning math skills such as division and fractions, 

Not only is music a way for students to learn applied mathematics, but it’s also a great outlet for relaxation. I know, a lot of my friends who are music majors may disagree with me. I see the countless hours they spend working hard in the practice rooms at school. According to the National Association for Music Education, music allows students to relax outside of the stressors in their lives. Personally, music was a great outlet for me to relieve my stress, especially soothing music like jazz. All I had to do was pick up my euphonium or my trombone and play whatever came to my mind. I could play with my fellow musicians or alone.

There are so many more benefits to music education on NAFME’s website, including emotional development like learning how to manage anxiety.

Testimony from UF Musicians

Sujaya Rajguru knew from a young age that she wanted to play the flute. She took lessons from a private instructor and played the instrument in school. She was inspired by songs like “The Magic Flute” by Mozart and “Peter in the Wolf” to play the flute. Rajguru is currently a member of the Gator Marching Band, Basketball Pep Band, Concert Band and the Flute Ensemble at UF.

“Music education is a crucial part of education. In other countries, music is taught as a mandatory subject, like they teach foreign languages which are a part of core curriculum in many other countries. Objectively, music develops the mind and therefore has academic benefits. It also teaches students hard work, dedication, responsibility and teamwork. I personally have gained invaluable leadership experience through band that no other organization could have provided me. Music not only provides concrete benefits for future success but also allows a unique form of creative expression and can also serve as stress relief. Exposing students to the study of music is just as important as exposing them to math, reading or science. It teaches a new way of thinking just as a subject like math does. At least at a basic level, music should be a part of the core curriculum.” – Sujaya Rajguru, history major at UF, flute/piccolo player and member of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity.

Kathy Eilers’ music experience comes from her sixth-grade band program. She was inspired by her brother who also joined band in school to take on music as an elective. Eilers says that music has taught her skills such as multitasking, working on a team, time-management skills, and an appreciation for art.

“Music offers a medium to express emotions. These can be emotions of fear, sadness, heartbreak, joy, love, or excitement. It can be someone’s coping mechanism for how they deal with the stress in life! I believe that music is needed to maintain a healthy mind! Music can be used to destruct a mind from a painful moment or can be used to calm a mind that is overwhelmed! Music can help people with depression. I think music essential for a person’s health and well-being.” – Kathy Eilers, nursing major at UF, French horn/trumpet/mellophone player and member of Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary Band Sorority.

Alana Smith’s father encouraged her to join band in middle school, and it ended up becoming a huge part of her life. Smith took private music lessons and attended music camps, which is where she was inspired to major in music. She describes music as “one of the many loves in [her] life,” where she feels at home.

“Music education is so important and so many studies show how it can improve a school’s test scores. Even with these studies, I don’t understand why they keep trying to take funding away from music and the arts. Band also allows a different place for kids to fit in when they don’t fit into other stereotypes like sports. It can really help kids.” – Alana Smith, music and statistics major at UF, saxophone player and member of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity.

There are so many benefits to music education, but yet, us musicians still have to fight to prove the importance of school music programs. Some of these benefits include improved mental health, emotional well-being, academic performance, friendships and discipline, just to name a few. Public schools need more funding for the arts including music education programs. Reach out to your local, state and national representatives and let them know how important music education is to you. You can learn more about music education programs and how they’re at-risk of being defunded on NAFME’s website.