Peter Green writing for CURMUDGUCATION: Stop “Defending” Music:
First of all, it’s a tactical error. If your state gets swept up in the winds of test dumpage and suddenly tests are not driving your school, what will you say to the ax guy (because, tests or not, the ax guy is not going away any time soon)? If your big selling point for your program has been that it’s actually test prep with a horn, you’ve made yourself dependent on the future of testing. That’s a bad horse on which to bet the farm.
Second, it’s just sad. And it’s extra sad to hear it come from music teachers. Just as sad as if I started telling everyone that reading Shakespeare is a great idea only because it helps with math class.
There are so many reasons for music education. Soooooooo many. And “it helps with testing” or “makes you do better in other classes” belong near the bottom of that list.
His passionate article independently echoes my thoughts from my article “What is the Value of Music“:
Another genre of manifestations-as-value are those arguments that treat music as an intermediary step for the actual valuable activities of our lives. The “Mozart Effect” and other bullet points about how music improves collaboration skills, language skills, reasoning and so on have one thing in common: they assist some serious sounding but ultimately non-musical goal.
And, please, don’t get me wrong: there are plenty of non-musical benefits of music. But – again – these are individual manifestations, they’re not the primary value. They aren’t the valuable kernel that starts our relationship with music and makes us stick with it long-term. The non-musical benefits of music are like the potential health benefits of wine: wine drinkers are happy they exist, but they’re secondary.
His stance really resonates with me. Just ask yourself: why do you do music (either playing or listening)? Is it for any of those often cited secondary reasons, or is it for something else?
That said, I’ve never been a teacher in a public grade school facing budget cuts. I don’t know how I would protect my program under those situations.