With funding for public school music and art programs in constant jeopardy, it is crucial for all advocates of such programs to be armed with knowledge of their many benefits, as well as some of the counterarguments that detractors may rely on. Here, then, are the views of two esteemed guest columnists. Defending the programs against the philistine onslaught known as the "small government" movement is Ray Dolcissimo, a veteran band parent, self-appointed child development expert, and hack guitar player. Defending the rights of taxpayers to not educate their children is Dave Ruvido, a libertarian activist, truck driver, and junior high school drop out.
Pro: Mr. Dolcissimo
First off, it is well known that teenagers require far more sleep than the average adult, and that failing to get adequate rest each night can lead to underachievement in high school. Listening to music, however, is a surefire way to put anyone to sleep in short order. I can't seem to stay awake for more than 3 minutes of it myself. Though the music of pre-classic Europeans, minimalist Americans, and most smooth jazz artists seems to be particularly well-suited to this purpose, it's a property that all music seems to share pretty much across the board. We must not be left behind in recognizing this inherent value of music, one which much of the rest of American society has come to embrace wholeheartedly in recent times. By developing a love for music in elementary school, students will acquire a proficiency at sleeping that will last well into adulthood.
Second, as an art that deals with the communication of emotion, music is uniquely well-suited to fostering healthy emotional development among students. Who could ever forget the fear created by an upcoming scale quiz, the anger at malfunctioning school-owned instruments, the jealousy directed at the first chair players, or the utter shock of encountering an accidental in one's part? It's a proven fact that kids who study music are better in touch with their emotions. I don't think that's a coincidence.
I'll close with a question: would you want your own kids to be sleep deprived and full of pent-up emotion? Or do you want to raise healthy, well-rested and spaz-tastic young adults who are so excited about going to school each day, they insist on having a car so that they can drive there themselves? I implore you to recognize the undeniable benefits of a complete education, one which includes music and art as well as all of the traditional "core" subjects. We simply owe our kids the opportunity to experience music and all its attendant benefits.
Con: Mr. Ruvido
What's the worst thing that could happen to a kid just because his school had no band for him to play in? Maybe he actually starts doing his homework, or gets involved in a sport, or better yet, gets a damn job and stops freeloadin' off his parents. Now riddle me this: what's the worst that could happen to him if he does join the high school band and starts to kinda like it? I'll tell you what: he tries to make a career out of it.
The last thing we need is more hippy scumbags fighting each other for work and not earnin' any money. They might as well dropout now and get started drivin' a truck. We hear so much blather about certain activities providing kids something to do other than roam the streets and become drug addicts, but isn't that exactly what musicians do anyway? It's hard to understand how music could keep kids off drugs; if anything, it's more likely to lead the to a drug habit they wouldn't have developed otherwise.
Music not only carries the same risks as teen vagrancy, it is a drug itself: it causes musicians to withdraw from family and friends, spend all their money on recordings and instrument accessories, and become despondent most of the time over finding gigs and having enough time to practice. What good is it to keep a kid off the street when he's going to end up addicted to music anyway? I'm not payin' one cent of my hard-earned dough for little Johnny to develop a music habit. End of story.