Music and the Schools

A fall 2005 survey of 1,045 principals by the U.S. Department of Education showed that only 3.44% believed that music had no effect on academic support.

black and white photograph. Woman in suit with long skirt leads orchestra of older children

Lennox Hill Settlement Children’s Orchestra, New York, NY

In fact, the statistics are even more revealing :

Extent that music room(s) support instruction

Response to the Question Frequency Percent
Inapplicable 157 15.02
Not at all 36 3.44
Minor extent 46 4.40
Moderate extent 123 11.77
Major extent 683 65.36

First we see that 157, or 15% of the principals had no music room. But if we exclude those from the statistics, and refigure :

Response to the Question Frequency Percent
Not at all 36 4.05
Minor extent 46 5.18
Moderate extent 123 13.85
Major extent 683 76.91

We see that over 75% percent of the principals that have music rooms believe that they support academics to a major extent.

This is not some blown-up exaggeration of the “Mozart makes you smarter” type by the media. This is not some predigested chunk of propaganda. This is what the people on the front lines are telling us–the managers, if you will, of the schools. It’s what they are reporting to their superiors–their employers, if you will. And for those of you who took the trouble to follow the link, you know it was a question buried in a survey about lighting, air-conditioning, ventilation, temporary buildings, and storage areas, not a survey of the arts and how they contribute to education, which might have, on its own, been swayed by the latest feel-good reports on the national news.

If the principals think it’s good, shouldn’t the parents be demanding it? If your school does not have a music room (preferably with a music teacher), ask your principal “Why not?” If it’s a question of finances, maybe it’s time to go to your school board or city council and start asking some hard questions.

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