By Jacqueline Lofstad
Jacqueline Lofstad is a second-year PSEO student majoring
in music education and history. She is a trumpet player
from Circle Pines, MN (photo by Jacqueline Lofstad).
Imagine a sweet sixth grade girl entering middle
school for the first time. She is nervous and is
struggling academically and socially. However, she is
given her first instrument and learns to make music.
Through numerous rehearsals, she is able to work
with her band mates and form lifelong friendships.
The skills she develops transfer over into her academics.
When the concert comes, she has the chance to
confidently show her skill.
Unfortunately, when school budgets shrink, arts
are often the first programs to go because they are
not considered core subjects. However, music needs
to be kept in schools because it is a core subject, not
just pretty sounds (or otherwise, in the case of middle
school band). Music helps boost student’s academic
performance, improves teamwork skills, and gives
students confidence that they can use later in life.
Music in schools enhances a students’ academic
performances. Schools with music programs have
significantly higher graduation and attendance rates
than do those without programs. Music can help with
standardized tests. Students who have had music appreciation
classes or musical experiences scored on
average 50.5 points higher on the SAT. The Music
Educators’ National Conference writes, “Excluding
some Americans from music education denies them
access to one of the core academic subjects, music, as
an essential path toward meeting their educational
Music not only helps students have incredible
success in academics; it also helps benefit students in
all areas of their life. One of these areas is teamwork.
It’s proven that broad educational outcomes that were
thought to be most effectively met through participating
in music included cooperation/teamwork and
self-esteem. Cooperation is a skill necessary for ensembles
to be successful in performance.
Every society has music. Music education helps
students to work together with those of a different
race, religion, or socioeconomic class. Music helps
students understand diversity. Exposure to different
kinds of music helps students accept each other’s
differences. In high school, I played trumpet in MN
Youth Symphonies for two years. We had a Jewish
conductor, a lesbian student, many races, and pretty
much every political view possible in one orchestra.
We were unified in our love for music and excellence.
In a world with so much racial and religious tension,
unity is needed more today than ever before.
Music helps a student to gain confidence because
music gives students opportunities to present
themselves to others. When a student has a successful
performance, the confidence can carry over to other
areas of their life. Through performance, I learned
how to present myself well. This has helped so much
with other “performance” situations such as job interviews,
class discussion, and presentations. Through
rehearsals, teachers and performances, a student’s
self-esteem is boosted. Paul Lehman states, “The bottom
line is this: Music makes a difference in people’s
lives. We music educators have something to give to
the youth of America that no one else can give them,
and it’s something, that, once given, can never be taken
away. It’s the joy and beauty and the satisfaction
of music.” Music teachers who encourage to perform
may push them out of their comfort zone, but the students
will grow through that experience.
America must take action and start funding music,
so that every student, wealthy or not, has the opportunity
to participate in music ensembles. America
funds public schools to provide a well-rounded education
for everyone. If music is a core subject, then it
should be funded as well. Steven N. Kelly states, “All
individuals should have the opportunity to experience
music in ways that challenges them individually and
in groups.” Because music increases academic performance,
teaches teamwork, and promotes confidence,
funding for music education should be increased, not
cut in schools.