Monday, March 13, 2006

MUSIC (AND ARTS) EDUCATION

Music plays a huge role in my life. A number of my relatives and forebears have been accomplished musicians in both professional and amateur ranks. I myself majored in music education and taught music for several years. I am pleased to say that both of my sons share my love of music. They are both skilled brass players and developing composers. The youngest one plans to follow in my footsteps and major in music education when he enters college in a couple of years.

This past weekend I had the privilege of hearing my youngest son’s high school band perform at the state music festival. As I waited for the program to begin I perused the program notes. The final page summarized several reasons why music education should be a priority in our communities and in our country. The fact that such arguments need to be made (repeatedly) is a sad commentary on the state of American society.

What would a culture be without music, or literature, or the theatrical and visual arts? One thing that is certain is that it would not be a culture worth examining or emulating. Art – music, poetry, literature, painting, architecture – allows human beings to interact with the world in unique and creative ways.

In addition to providing a concert venue, the Sydney Opera House, through its imaginative design, offers a wonderful testament to Australia’s nautical heritage. In addition to keeping workers engaged and setting rhythmic paces for the completion of their tasks, the work songs of railroaders, sailors, slaves and others preserved - sometimes humorously, sometimes poignantly - tales and commentaries about life. In addition to engaging people’s musical sensibilities, the hymns of Charles Wesley were profound vehicles for the transmission of theological concepts.

Music could still be performed in Sydney’s Opera House even if it was just a square lump of cinderblock. But a square lump of cinderblock would not prepare concert-goers to engage in culturally significant and aesthetically stimulating experiences with nearly the same effect as the current edifice. Workers can be compelled to work faster by verbal admonition, but a pleasant working environment stirs up both productivity and employee satisfaction. Theology can be taught through books and sermons, but it becomes implanted in people’s hearts when it is transmitted in texts and music that are readily memorized and repeated.

The histories and characters of all cultures are embedded in their arts: songs, paintings, photographs, sculptures, buildings. . . . This is why we must preserve music and arts education in our schools. For when we teach children to appreciate art, to create art, and to perform artistically we also teach them to sculpt their cultures.

2 comments:

Christian Camuti said...

Music is a huge part of my life. While I classify myself as a mediocre amateur, I still enjoy listening and participating in music.

Did your "youngest son" participate in the NYSB future all stars again this year? I just read on a blog by our Chief Secretary that the NYSB Future all star weekend was this weekend. I was just curious. I remember hearing he had a great time last year.

Evie Sears said...

Chris,

Yes, Joshua went to the NYSB all-star weekend. In fact, he returned home just a few minutes ago. As expected he had a good time again.

The week-end gave him a couple of great opportunities. First, he got to meet and work with the excellent musicians in the NYSB. Second, he got to meet other young people from all over the USA and Canada who share his love of Salvation Army music.

Music camps played an important role in my life. I fondly remember the friendships developed at Camp Ladore and Star Lake. I remember playing and singing great music. And I remember hearing the moving testimonies of Salvationist musicians who had dedicated their talents to the glory of God.

I'm glad that my sons are able to have similar experiences. You'll enjoy it when your children are able to do the same. I'm looking forward to that.