Making Academic Connections Through Music, the Universal Language: Learning Outside the Brick Wall
Research suggests that arts programs do present challenges in curriculum offerings. In numerous studies, it has been suggested that many artistically talented students are poorly served by the traditional instructional and testing methods in school. In addition, it has been found that qualities that are appreciated in the arts, such as creativity, independence and outspoken passion can lead to student discipline problems in the classroom setting. As a consequence, when music students are doing poorly academically, they are punished resulting in their disqualification from participating in music classes. Furthermore, while many music students are involved in sports, or outside interests such as chess, computers, debate or science, many community members and educators fail to recognize or understand the importance of music study and the power it has over the music students’ academic success.
It has been suggested that when students are involved in arts programs, their lives are changed. Much of the measured results are in the photographs of smiling faces that document the students’ experiences. However, U.S. education policy makers value measurement and data-driven analyses to make decisions on allocation of scarce resources. Hence, these decision makers and others argue that snapshots of smiling faces are not adequate proof to garner or maintain support for the arts. This means that lacking systematic research, even the most kindly of policy makers are likely to struggle when choosing among education programs when being asked to target resources for arts programs that provide enhanced service to academically struggling students.
This thesis addresses the learning connections students make through their music experiences. The basis of this treatise is drawn from the testimonials of students who have derived their own conclusions, enhanced by music and the arts, which links their understanding of the world around them.
Keywords: Music, Creativity, Arts and Learning
Dr. Elsa T. Valenciano Fager
Director of Orchestras, Music Department, Auburn School District