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March is Music in Our Schools Month

Join The Band At School

Join The Band At School

Sponsored by the National Association for Music Education, March has been designated Music in Our Schools Month in the US since 1985. With the looming threat of budget cuts hanging over music in public schools, the event is a vital way to focus attention on the need for and benefits of quality music education for all children.

Music education does not mean simply training the next generation’s symphony performers. It is about integrating music into the fabric of life, about enhancing learning by utilizing music. Children respond naturally to music, and its use can be woven into lesson plans at all stages of learning. Children who are having trouble building awareness of letter sounds may find it much easier to pick up if a string of alliterative words, like “Alice’s aunt ate all the apples,” is set to a tune and presented to them. Learning becomes a multi-sensory experience that lays down and reinforces memory. Songs can make the memorization of facts and dates so much easier, as all of us in the Schoolhouse Rock generation can attest (I will remember the Preamble to the Constitution till the day I die, but only if I sing it!). Older kids can use lyrics from their favorite songs as a springboard to write their own short stories, turning writing from “boring” to “cool.”

More traditional music education can open up opportunities and aptitudes that will serve each child well beyond their childhood. Learning to play an instrument, to sing, to read music, are all skills that carry over into other areas of learning, areas of brain development that can last a lifetime.

It’s a crying shame that so many schools are being forced to reduce or eliminate their music programs. With the focus on Common Core and teaching to the tests, there is so much less opportunity for teachers to get creative and try to integrate music into their lessons. Music in Our Schools Month is an attempt to bring the vision of music educators to the general public, to spotlight the importance of music for each and every child.

The one drawback to Music in Our Schools Month, purely from my own personal situation? **Every single musical performance** my daughter is participating in is in the month of March! We started the month with the Westchester All-County Chorus Festival. This week is our middle school musical production of “Bugsy Malone” (so much better than the Scott Baio/Jodie Foster farce of the ’70s!). Next week we leave for Atlanta, for the Organization of Kodaly Educators Annual Conference. My daughter’s chorus teacher is a member of this organization of music educators, and she nominated my daughter for their National Youth Choir. The following week, when we get back, she will participate in our All-City Choral Festival. Whew! It brings a whole new meaning to March Madness! In addition to these musical events in March, there is also the Talent Show at her school and the New York State School Music Association’s Festival for vocal performers, both of which my daughter had to opt out of because there are only so many hours after school for rehearsals.

Despite all the busyness, we are fortunate to have all of these wonderful performance opportunities in conjunction with Music in Our Schools Month. Far too many kids today lack such chances to broaden their horizons and brighten their lives with music.

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