Perhaps like me, your holidays were filled with music: school concerts, carolling, a teen playing her new electric guitar, the wonderful broadway show ‘Once’, the inspiring Harlem Gospel Choir and the powerful music from the film Les Misérables.
These various musical experiences have incited me to pause and reflect on the role of music in our lives, and its importance as an integral part of the K-12 curriculum.
The benefits of music education are well researched (see Learning, Arts & the Brain; MuSICA, and the International Journal of Music Education) – it can enhance academic performance, foster self-esteem, ignite creativity, promote self-discipline and create a sense of accomplishment. In his book, Music Quickens Time, conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim goes further to explore the transformative power of music in society and how music has the potential to be a vehicle for character development and also for social and political change.
I am hopeful that musicians and schools with vibrant music programs reach out to partner with other schools and community organizations to share their passion for music and bring access to all. Here are some programs that support Music Education in North America:
Heart of the City Piano Program: in six Canadian cities, this program aims to enhance the lives and learning opportunities for at-risk youth through a structured music program.
The Sarah McLachlan School of Music in Vancouver provides music education to under-served and at-risk youth at no cost. The school is dedicated to helping young people build community and find their voice.
Spread Music Now: an American-based organization that supports music instruction programs, giving children the opportunity to learn, create and perform music.
Music for Young Children: full disclosure – I offer MYC programming every Tuesday to families in my community – contact me if you’re interested in learning more!
Please share other community resources for ensuring music education for all here.