Sunday, March 17, 2002

Learning With Music: Music In Our Schools Month

For more than 25 years, the National Association for Music Education (MENC), an organization dedicated to advancing music education, has sponsored music-related activities in schools throughout the month of March. In 1990, the celebration grew into what we now know as Music In Our Schools Month (MIOSM). The chief event in the MIOSM celebration is the World's Largest Concert, a broadcast featuring student-performed multicultural music that reaches more than 8 million people around the world! The theme of the 2002 World's Largest Concert is "Music Pass It On!." All of the music selected for this year's program will represent the musical cultures of past and future Olympic host countries including the following:

* Japan 1998
* Australia 2000
* The United States 2002
* Greece 2004
* Italy 2006
* China 2008

The music, including pieces featuring different languages chosen to promote world peace and unity, will be performed by three youth symphonies at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah on Thursday, March 14, 2002. According to MENC President Mel Clayton, this year's World's Largest Concert helps to demonstrate that "[m]usic is a needed and effective tool in not only teaching and learning about people of all cultures, but in providing a link, a connection between all people."

More and more research shows that music is an important piece of the educational puzzle for children of all ages, not only as an artistic outlet, but also as an aid to basic learning skills. One recent study demonstrates a clear link between music and arts education and math and reading skills in first-grade students (Gardiner 1998). Studies cited by MENC claim that "music training is far superior to computer instruction in dramatically enhancing children's abstract reasoning skills, the skills necessary for learning math and science."

The country's leadership, too, is beginning to acknowledge the significance of music education as a factor in children's success in school. The 2001 Education Appropriations Act allocated over twenty-eight millions dollars for arts education, with two million dollars specifically designated for the creation of "model professional development for music educators." This budget, with its implications of growing support from Capitol Hill, marks a great step forward for the musical community.

You and your students can begin bringing music into the learning experience with "Music...Pass It On." Tune in to PeachStar's Channel 410 at 1 PM, Fri., 03/15 and 9 PM, Fri., 03/29 and on Channel 420 at 1 PM, Fri., 03/15 and 5 PM, Fri., 03/22 and join the millions of other music lovers around the world in this commemoration of music education. Copies of the scores to be played as well as a complete teacher's guide with sample lessons may be ordered directly through MENC.