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December 27, 2022

Aside from letting leftist indoctrination take over our public school system, the biggest mistake we conservatives made in education over the years was in thinking that art and music classes were expendable luxuries and should be slashed to concentrate on “the three ‘R’s.” Not only are art and music classes important in themselves, but they are also beneficial to helping students excel in other subjects, including math and reading.

As the so-called “triumph of the nerds” has shown us, the twenty-first century will belong to the creative; they will thrive and prosper, both as individuals and as societies. The creative ones will be the competitive ones. This is why China goes to so much trouble and expense to try to steal our patents and infiltrate our universities and corporate R&D departments.

While you can't teach creativity the way you do state capitals and multiplication tables, you can nurture it by offering art and music to all of our students, all the way through school. I believe that our secret weapons for remaining creative and competitive in the global economy are art and music, what I call our "weapons of mass instruction."

Studies have shown a direct correlation between music education and math scores. Music develops both sides of the brain and improves spatial reasoning and the capacity to think in the abstract. Music teaches students how to learn, and that skill is transferable to learning foreign languages, algebra, or history.

Art and music education levels the differences in academic performance among students from different socioeconomic backgrounds and reduces delinquent behavior. Art and music education results in what all parents and school districts are looking to brag about: higher SAT scores. I am a living example of how learning to play guitar can take a shy kid out of his shell and set him on a path to success in life he might otherwise never have imagined. This is why I support organizations that provide instruments to underprivileged students.

Some children decide early on that they're not good at school and they hate it. Art and music can save these children and keep them in school. For them, biology may be broccoli and Spanish may be spinach, but when they get to art class or band practice, that's a hot fudge sundae. If it weren't for these opportunities where they feel successful and worthwhile, where they're enthusiastic and engaged, many students would drop out of school. According to research by the Education Commission of the States, there is an established correlation between art and music education and high school dropout rates.

It infuriates me when people, especially my fellow conservatives, dismiss art and music as extracurricular, extraneous, and expendable. To me, they're essential to a well-rounded education.

In reality, creativity doesn't really have to be "taught" because it is naturally "caught" by every child.

Do you have to beg a three-year-old to sing or a four-year-old to draw pictures or a five-year-old to playact various roles when playing fireman, doctor, or parent? What happens between the naturally creative early years and the bored-to-death teenage years? Those years are spent in a classroom in which students are told to sit down, be quiet, face forward, get your head in the book, and be still.

Students today aren't dumb. The people who run the educational establishment, who want to create a conveyor belt that treats students like parts in a manufacturing plant (like the one in the Pink Floyd video for “Another Brick in the Wall”), are the dumb ones. And there's no reason to let it stay that way.

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Comments 1-10 of 38

  • Jayne Hampton

    03/09/2023 10:08 PM

    Agreed! I loved being part of music and arts programs throughout my school experience. I did something every day related to music. I had free voice lessons, free clarinet lessons ( with instrument provided, because my parents could not have afforded it), and I performed in numerous concerts at school and beyond. I learned to sing in multiple languages, and learned about many different cultures. My children and grandchildren are enjoying the art and music programs in their schools also! Some of my (and their) best friendships have been formed with fellow artists and musicians, too.

  • Peggy Chapman

    03/08/2023 03:47 PM

    Mike, I agree with you concerning art and music!… began with me in 7th grade with clarinet in Junior High (Middle school now!) band… be a part I had to take lessons which carried also into Miami Senior High School Concert and Marching Band, (Million Dollar Marching One Hundred!) Miami, Florida. (In the mid 1950’s) Talk about fun and great memories! Orange Bowl Parade and Orange Bowl halftimes!!….I have an appreciation for all types of music in that day….that was before rock! ?? I love when the National anthem is played in a majestic triumphant manner….. “Drum roll please” ???? Twenty years later I played in my church orchestra for several years.
    I will add that sewing is my Art which I still enjoy to this day!

  • Noble E. Johnson, P.E.

    03/08/2023 03:33 PM

    I taught the Junior High Youth Group and Sunday School Classes at our church for over a decade. The biggest challenge we had for every group that graduated into the Junior High class was to train them out of being quiet and keeping their hands and their thoughts to themselves. It normally took months to convince the kids to understand that their thoughts, opinions, and feelings were valuable and even longer to teach them how to share them with others with any degree of confidence. The kids who were involved in music programs had a much easier transition as they were already used to "sharing" their music. Another challenge was teaching the kids to use information to draw conclusions rather than just parroting information without serious thought and analysis. Again, the kids involved in music programs made this transition with greater ease than those without them.

    Thank you for all you do,

  • Janet Kay Snyder

    03/08/2023 02:59 PM

    The arts are ignored but sports programs are over rated

  • Beth E.

    03/08/2023 01:02 PM

    Well stated article. So true. I taught highschool choir for 10 years and saw the benefits of music for my students. Coming out of their shell, kept them in school and did not become a drop out.

  • Ardis Conner

    03/08/2023 12:30 PM

    Yes, music is important. My husband is in memory care. The most exciting thing, the most appreciated thing, the most calming thing for these folks is music, no matter how severe the dimentia.

  • Ron Pavellas

    03/08/2023 11:47 AM

    From Wikipedia regarding education in Ancient Greece:
    "Physical training was seen as necessary for improving one's appearance, preparation for war, and good health at an old age. On the other hand, mousike—literally 'the art of the Muses'—was a combination of modern-day music, dance, lyrics, and poetry. Learning how to play the lyre, and sing and dance in a chorus were central components of musical education in Classical Greece. Mousike provided students with examples of beauty and nobility, as well as an appreciation of harmony and rhythm. "
    My opinion is that participating in the arts at any level stimulates a part of the brain that provides balance to the rest of our present civilization deems necessary in general education.

  • Janie Trowbridge

    12/29/2022 01:48 PM

    I have fought for art and music in our schools for the last 50 years. Students in music have better grades, no dropouts, and better outlooks than students without. I am so glad you are supporting this. Keep up the good work. We appreciate you.

  • Sharon Schmidt

    12/28/2022 04:16 PM

    When children are interested in the arts they must be encouraged!!!

  • Pam Wilson

    12/28/2022 12:34 PM

    I am president of Pedernales Creative Arts Alliance, a nonprofit in Fredericksburg, TX that sponsors our great Oktoberfest. We give back 100% of our profits to the arts in our Gillespie County through grants, concerts & scholarships. We currently/continually have 16 Gillespie County students on art related scholarships. We make a difference!