Letter to the Editor: The importance of music in education

When the music teacher at Broadview Avenue Public School retires this year, the position will not be filled in September. I understand that it has something to do with staffing and budget – the details of which are not something I can explain because I don’t really understand all the ins and outs.

Molly van der Schee, a Westboro parent of two, is concerned about changes to the music program at Broadview PS. Photo by Andrea Tomkins

The Principal’s budget is not really what concerns me. What concerns me is the lack of monetary commitment on the part of the Ottawa Carleton District School Board to teach music.

I have always believed in the importance of creative, artistic play. Much of what little kids do as play (singing, dancing, drawing) are natural forms of art. Early childhood educators recognize the need to encourage this learning because it is these activities that engage all the senses and wire the brain for learning. What this tells me is that music isn’t just for fun –  music education contributes to a deeper level of learning.

As kids get older and move through primary grades and into the junior years, it might not be circle time that engages them in music, but it might be recorder instruction and choir. You can read all kinds of articles and research that tells us about the positive impact music has on brain development.

Read this article on the PBS website. It is called The Benefits of Music Education by Laura Lewis Brown. It states that research shows music education facilitates learning other subject matters.

One would think we’d all be on board here and realize that music is just as important as math and science, early French Immersion and all the rest. In fact, music education actually contributes to better learning in other areas of education.

The point is, music is essential to learning. Music shouldn’t be thought of as an extra – it should be part of the curriculum. As educators, the Ministry of Education and the School Board should know this and have an unwavering commitment to it.

In my opinion, that means an actual Music Teacher assigned to each school.

In the meantime, it has been a great few years at Broadview with Arts Alive, Holiday Concerts, Remembrance Day and countless plays. I understand that music will be taught by teachers with an interest or a background in music and there is hope that extra curricular music will be handled by teachers or parents organized by Parent Council.

I don’t doubt there are great music teachers working at Broadview and should my kids land in a class with a teacher who can teach music, all the better. But that’s not the same thing as having a dedicated music teacher on staff.

Thank you,

Molly van der Schee

2 thoughts

  1. Many decades ago, I graduated as a Music Education Specialist from Mc.Gill, and began trying to educate elementary students in Montreal, to discover and eternally cherish the meaning of music (of all genres). I was not told that the subject was not counted on their report cards until several months later. That was, in itself, very discouraging. After that first year, I returned to private teaching in my home studio, and occasional teaching of all subjects in public schools. Now, it is even worse. AlthoughI’m retired, I’m saddened and disappointed that in North America, the arts, and specifically, music, is not given it’s worth. Music is one of the most important subjects for anyone who wishes to integrate concepts into processes. Music is math, language, philosophy, psychology, anthropology and more. It is a language, a means of communication, a multi-complex labyrinth of meaning and one of the most integral and crucial forms for enabling us to become fully human. It is crucial that there be a music specialist teaching all students within each and every school, and that the subject be counted as part of each students average.

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