As public school budgets get squeezed more than ever, the arts and music programs are the first to suffer.
I’ve heard all sorts of statistics on what percentage of schools actually have music programs. Amazingly, there aren’t reliable reports I have been able to find on this subject, despite consulting multiple experts who work in the space.
Here’s what I believe to be true – At least 33% of schools in Los Angeles don’t have any music programs (not even a music room!), and it’s unclear how robust the music programs are at the other ⅔.
I have heard only 10% of schools in the Los Angeles area have robust music education options, but have not been able to verify this.
Earlier this week, Grace VanderWaal came together to sing Light the Sky with the Little Miracles, a 55 student elementary school choir she created and funded near her hometown. Since I’ve known Grace, she has always been incredibly passionate about music programs being available to students and it’s amazing to see her vision come to life as she shared the stage and helped curate the winter concert. In addition to her financial contribution, Fender and Shure donated ukuleles, acoustic guitars, amps and microphones respectively to the school.
Can you imagine what our industry would be like without any of the generational talent who will take the stage tomorrow?
What are you doing to make music accessible to everybody?
It is imperative we ask ourselves this question and do what we can as the consequences of curtailing music education are too severe.
Kids being able to freely explore their musical passions is the only way to ensure the maximum talent pool for the big leagues.
While there will be the chosen few who get to succeed in music as a profession, more importantly, music opens up creative outlets we didn’t know existed within ourselves. It enables kids to know they can be creators. This realization can have a profound impact on young lives that spans well beyond the initial effects of creating music.
The arts are used to solve conflicts and environmental challenges. Music is a means of communication for students still finding their voice. The attendance and graduation rates of schools with music programs is significantly higher as well.
The organization I know that currently does the best job of getting music in underprivileged schools is Mr Holland’s Opus Foundation. I just placed a small donation and if you’re enjoying Grammy week as much as I am, you can consider donating to the cause as well.
Let’s keep music alive in our schools for the next generation. The kids deserve it.