Article: Music Education

Music Education

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About Music Education in Our Community

Overview of Issue Impacts

Music education has long been considered an important part of primary and secondary education in America. In the colonial era, music education was likely centered around the performance of psalms that were a part of religious services. Indeed, one of the first “singing schools” in America was focused on “curing” music illiteracy specifically within the context of music performance in church; it was founded by Reverend John Tufts, who also wrote a book titled An Introduction to the Singing of Psalm-Tunes in 1721. Soon, secular music education began to receive more emphasis. Tunebooks, which were instructional texts containing choral music, began to be used in school settings; later, as enrollment increased across the country, many schools began to develop band programs, which became increasingly popular. Today, music education in schools is widespread; in 2012, a report found that 91% of secondary schools offered instruction specifically focused on music (1).

 In many ways, this importance and emphasis on music education is well justified; indeed, music education has been documented to have diverse and far-reaching positive impacts on overall learning outcomes for students of all ages. For example, participation in music programs has been shown to improve work ethic and creative thinking skills in students; it has also been correlated with increased interest in learning and improved performance on standardized tests (2).

Populations Affected by Issue

Given the importance of music education in the overall schooling of students at all ages, many organizations work around the country and within the Triangle region in order to advocate for music programs and increase public awareness. Indeed, even though many schools do offer music programs, many students report a lack of engagement with these opportunities; for example, a 1998 assessment by the NAEP found that only one in four 8th graders reported being asked to play an instrument or sing at least once a week (3). The work of these organizations is needed to increase student engagement with music education opportunities. 

Additionally, many of these organizations work to provide music education opportunities to those students who might otherwise not have access. When schools do not have music education resources available for their students, it falls on individual families to provide access to music programs; however, the cost of this can be prohibitive at times. Therefore, the work of many organizations that provide free or subsidized music education services is incredibly important, ensuring all students have access to these important opportunities. 

Fast Facts

References

  1. History of Music Education in the United States, Campbellsville University. (2016).
  2. 20 Important Benefits of Music in Our Schools, National Association for Music Education. (2014). 
  3. Quick Facts and Stats, Music For All. (2010).
  4. The Status of Music Education in United States Public Schools, Give A Note Foundation. (2017).

Additional Resources

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Page Contributors

Thank you to the following contributors:

  • Summer 2020:
    • Andy Q.

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Last updated April 2021

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