Arts and Music EducationWe look at the data that show how arts and music are extremely valuable as part of the education system.
By: Brandon Less, Sibley Scribe
Today’s high-stakes testing for high school students focuses on sciences, mathematics, language arts – the core classes. In a general sense, one could say that these subjects are the keystones to our education. So is there even a point to teaching other subjects? It costs schools money that they could be investing into math and science. Already in some states, schools have cut out music and arts other elective programs for this reason. But what affect can this have? Are the arts and music really beneficial to teach in high school? How could one even show a student’s progress? In fact, there are many reasons to have a vibrant music and arts program in schools. Art and music helps to develop teenagers’ self-confidence and personality, and are positive outlets for teenagers’ complex emotions. Art and music education provides physiological benefits that prove beneficial to the education of high school students and the help to develop student’s creativity that is necessary to flourish in our society.
Scientifically speaking, music and arts education is beneficial to the teenage brain. Learning to read music helps to develop students’ comprehension skills. A piece of music involves many different symbols and notations which students must first learn to interpret before being able to replicate them. In order to play the piece, students must to be able to rapidly interpret the symbols. Learning these skills is beneficial to student’s comprehension skills, which, in turn, is beneficial to their reading comprehension skills.
Music and arts education also fosters creativity, thinking on your feet and “outside of the box” thinking. Composing a new rhythm, drawing, painting, dancing expressively, acting…these are all ways of developing creativity toward existing problems and situations. It also happens to be one of the skills that CEOs and other executives in the workplace are desperately looking for in their new hires. These same CEOs are really looking for problem solvers too…. people who can think deeply and critically. Artistic endeavors are born through solving problems: Turning emotion into dance, turning metal or wood into a sculpture, turning ink or paint into a tableau. These require reasoning and understanding which is what many employers are looking for.
Another aspect of music and arts education is the gain in confidence many students experience. Art and music require abstract thought and input and anybody participating must allow room for failure. Nobody - whether an artist, a musician, an engineer, a teacher, an athlete – can be on top of their game all the time, so learning to accept failure is healthy and necessary. According to Lisa Phillips, a leading arts educator, speaker and author of The Artistic Edge : 7 Skills Children Need to Succeed in an Increasingly Right Brain World, theater and choir programs force students to “practice stepping out of their comfort zone and allows them to make mistakes and learn from them in rehearsal.” Rehearsals help to build students confidence to the point where they can perform in front of a large audience.
Part of the arts is learning from constructive feedback. Performance evaluations and discussions with peers or teachers allow “children to learn that feedback is part of learning and it is not something to be offended by or to be taken personally.” Once students can accept this notion, their confidence heightens.
Teenagers need an outlet for their complex emotions. Whether they admit it or not, teens have many emotions running through their minds every day, especially in the prime of puberty. Speaking for myself, these emotions need to be let out. Some teenagers paint a picture to express their emotions. Some may write songs or a musical composition. Music and art are great outlets. “The ability to focus is a key skill developed through ensemble work. Keeping a balance between listening and contributing involves a great deal of concentration and focus.” The focus that art and music require allows students to apply their emotions to creating a certain piece of music or a kind of sculpture, thus, expressing themselves through art. The idea of creating something from an emotion is what allows teens to explore themselves and find their niche in the world.
Sources used for this article : The Artistic Edge: 7 Skills Children Need to Succeed in an Increasingly Right Brain World” by Lisa Phillips ; Washington Post posts by Valerie Strauss “Why we love artists but not arts education” and “Top 10 skills children learn from the arts.”