Music Education Matters

Kory and his bass violin

Kory and his bass violin

This week marks the end of another school year, which causes me to reflect on how fast my son, Kory, has grown up. Next year, he’ll be a senior in high school, getting ready for college!

This also marks the time of year when schools begin talking about budget cuts for next school year. Talks of budget cuts always include talk about cutting parts of the music program, which boggles my mind, because I can’t begin to tell you what an important influence music education has played in my son’s life.

I’m lucky to live in a school district that offers music education beginning in middle school. I must admit that I was a bit surprised when my son came home after his first day at middle school and announced he was going to play the enormous bass violin. My husband plays the electric bass, so I guess it’s natural that my son would choose the bass violin.

I’m lucky to live in a school district with a strings teacher willing to rush between 2 middle schools and the city high school to keep the strings music program alive. Ms. G is a miracle worker. Over half the children who start taking beginning strings in middle school play their instruments with her through graduation from high school. What an amazing woman!

I’m lucky to live near a wonderful summer arts program for Young Musicians and Artists (YMA) at beautiful Willamette University. My son spent 3 summers at their music camp, where teachers play alongside students during performances. The summer between middle school and high school, my son’s YMA bass teacher recommended he audition for the Portland Youth Philharmonic (PYP).

I’m lucky to live in the same city as PYP, the oldest youth orchestra in the country. My son has played with PYP for 3 years and will continue to play with them as a senior in high school. It’s a marvelous program and the performances are breathtaking. I’m reminded that there has to be a higher power every time I attend a PYP concert. My son is so lucky to play with such talented musicians!

Even though my son played with PYP, he continued to play with Ms. G and his high school strings orchestra. PYP encourages all students to continue to support their school music programs.

100% of the students who participate in PYP go to college. Music programs, like sports programs, teach students the values of team work, practice and reliability. Music is technical and mathematical. My son is considering math as his major in college. I can’t imagine why any educator would consider cutting such a positive influence from their programs.

Children who play music are more likely to graduate high school and attend college. Please support your local music education programs. Be active in your local community and ensure music continues to play at your middle schools and high schools.

In addition to the links to the YMA and PYP general websites, please view and listen to the following PYP performance videos:

Cynthia Kahn
Twitter: @Amused_Now