And the Orchestra Played On

Though I don’t believe that music education’s short shrift in curriculum alone is the reason for the past decades marked decline in the Classical audience base, it always deserves pointing out that music education isn’t just about introducing younger folks to traditional art music.  In The Sunday New York Times Joanne Lipman contributed an Op-Ed that rehashed an anecdote about a concert for her recently passed high school music educator, Mr. K:

It turned out, a few days later, that there were 100 people just like me. When I showed up at a local school for rehearsal, there they were: five decades worth of former students. There were doctors and accountants, engineers and college professors. There were people who hadn’t played in decades, sitting alongside professionals like Mr. K.’s daughter Melanie, now a violinist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. There were generations of music teachers.

They flew in from California and Oregon, from Virginia and Boston. They came with siblings and children; our old quartet’s cellist, Miriam, took her seat with 13 other family members.

They came because Mr. K. understood better than anyone the bond music creates among people who play it together.

I have railed before about how cutting arts education is becoming and ongoing theme in public schools around the country since the passage of the NCLB Act, but the case I made in that instance was not as basic as the one Ms. Lipman is making.  Music is about communication, it’s about sharing and emoting.  Having an educator who understands this and can impart it is invaluable to human enrichment, this enrichment extends far beyond the formative years of youth. Losing education programs that could have as much impact on Ms. Lipman’s life as Mr. K’s did, not only deprives children of all the advantages I mentioned in previous articles, (better academics being one) but it also hampers cultural integration into society, ostensibly one of the two most important goals in education along with the learning of productive skills.

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