Music is...

        When school budgets are revised and something has to be cut, it is frequently music, which is seen as a frill, despite the fact that it is integrous to most cultures. The study and appreciation of music, though, is significant in the way it connects to many other parts of the curriculum.

        It is important for parents to champion the teaching of music in the public schools because once it is cut, it is rarely reinstated. My school district eliminated elementary school music teachers in the early Seventies and has never reinstated them.

Music is mathematics.

        The rhythms, beats, and notes are directly related to the mathematical way that notes are divided fractionally. A young person who does not understand fractions in a strictly mathematical context but who is studying music may "get it" with the explanation of whole , half , quarter , eighth, and other subdivided notes.

Music is social studies.

        The musician develops a relationship with his audience. Ensemble musicians cooperate in the practice and performance of their selections. The songs sung and instruments played reflect the cultures from which they come. Music tells us about the time period in which it was created, which also makes it a means of understanding history. The mutual enjoyment of composers and musicians brings people together.

Music is a foreign language.

        The symbols for notes, rests, clefs, time measurement, and tempi are a language that must be understood in order for the music to be performed properly. Performers who do not speak a common cultural language can communicate through music. And yet listeners can enjoy music without understanding the notes on the page or the cultural language used.

Music is physical education.

        In the playing of instruments, body muscles coordinate with the eye. Music used as an accompaniment to dance and aerobics enhances those activities.

Music is science.

        Acoustics is the science of sound. Instruments and voices produce waves and vibrations.

Music is enduring .

        Compositions speak to audiences via performers across the ages.

Music is an aid to intrapersonal knowledge.

        The musician must continually evaluate what she is doing, through practice and performance, to be sure that she is conveying the intent of the selection.

Music is magnetic.

It can be a means through which the entire school experience is made accessible to children. Maybe you or a friend found that the academic aspects of school did not offer you the meaning that you were looking for. You may have found that your experience in drama, art, band, or student government was what you needed to keep yourself connected to school. There are many students for whom music can serve as that bridge. If it werenít for music, there would be no interest in school - no reason to stick around.

This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents.

All columns are copyright © Jay Davidson.  Permission is hereby granted for individuals to download and copy them for individual use.  There is a modest charge for printing these columns in any publication.  To receive that permission, contact   Jay Davidson