The Sound of Silence in California Schools
“Our schools tend to refine intellects but neglect to discipline emotions. For anyone to grow up complete, music is imperative”– Paul Harvey: Broadcaster/Commentator.
When you validate the imagination of a child something amazing happens. Low self esteem disappears, and collaboration builds team work. The impact is not only from the music curriculum- it is the instilled wonder, playfulness, and imagination the arts build to help students find importance in society. Music provides a means of motivation so that students will develop academically, emotionally, and mentally. These permanent skills help children to feel good about themselves by aiding the development of a sincere appreciation for the arts. Early musical training helps develop brain areas involved in language and reasoning. Linking familiar songs to new information can help imprint information on young minds. There is also a causal link between music and spatial intelligence (the ability to perceive the world accurately and to form mental pictures of things). This kind of intellect, by which one can visualize elements that go together, is significant to the sort of thinking necessary from solving advanced math problems to successfully packing a backpack with everything that will be needed for the day. A study of music offers children a glimpse of other cultures and teaches them to be empathetic towards various customs. The awareness of ethnocentrism, as opposed to a "me first" attitude, begins to break down cultural barriers leading to respect for others.
Flexible, creative, and multi-dimensional employees are mandatory in today’s competitive workforce. Music develops skills necessary for life through unique outlets. For example, music performance trains students to understand and manage fear because it builds confidence by completing tasks they may have initially considered impossible. A little anxiety is normal as it will occur often in life. Essentially, controlling nervousness early reminds students that it is okay to step outside of comfort zones; thus, advancing his or her potential.
Instrumental in Developing Young Musicians
Why this program?
As a result of inadequate funds, there are thousands of lower income families who have children that want to learn an instrument but simply do not have the money to afford to rent or buy an instrument, and the schools do not have enough funding to allocate an instrument to every child in need.
Although I have been pleased at the number of individuals who also recognize this silent epidemic that is sweeping the nation and have formulated music education advocacy groups, I am still concerned by how difficult it is to obtain some of the services different programs are providing. After contacting a representative from VH1’s Save the Music Foundation, I found that a significant number of the recipients of VH1’s aid come from economically disadvantaged communities. In order to be considered for one of the grants the school must not have any music program started, and must compete against a nationwide candidate pool. Disbursement of the winner of the grants can take months to hear back from, and the process is rather grueling. There are families everywhere that encounter a barrier to access assistance for music instrument loans.
However, with budget cuts in the school systems, the school boards have faced difficulty implementing the programs back into the curriculum. Even with a supplemented music program, there still is a need for instruments for students and teachers are desperate for more funding. Many schools have a similar loan program to aid the students for a small flat rate fee for the first year. But after that one year the student is responsible for providing an instrument. If that child’s family can not afford to buy an instrument; it is such a sad reality there’s a lost musical opportunity for the student because the only option is to quit. I have collaborated with middle schools in Yolo County to organize a new and sustainable music instrument loan program, entitled Instrumental in Developing Young Musicians, with a group of approximately 50 volunteers of all ages from the area that are proficient in a musical background.
My initial audience segmentation has focused on Sacramento and Yolo County elementary through middle schools who expressed need. In July 2007, I took my music advocacy a step further. During a volunteer experience in a Costa Rican orphanage, I was able to provide musical instruments and group lessons to the children. It doesn’t matter where you are, or who you are with, music is a universal language. By the end I was reminded that we all smile in the same language; just like music has no cultural barrier in order to understand. The focus of change is strengthening children’s learning through playing a musical instrument without the barrier of finances. Participation is from the school itself, school officials, students (elementary and college age), as well as parents and volunteers. I have made sure sponsors have a trusted organization where they can donate their instruments, partnering with music instrument repair contacts, and distributors to purchase instruments for these students.
Because... there is at least one person out there who cares enough. One person who will take the extra steps to support a complete stranger. At least one person who cares to reach out to your heart and wants to make you genuinely happy.