Renoir, Reggae and Recess

When I was in fifth or sixth grade, we had the opportunity to join the school band – the opportunity to select and instrument and start learning one. I remember shopping with my father and ultimately selecting a flute (Y’all are going to laugh, but I picked it because it was the lightest one to carry). Though I never really got very good at playing the flute, I was in band for years – through my junior year of high school. In addition to band, I stayed pretty involved with our school choir program.

I’m the daughter of a musician and music is something that brings me great joy. It is something that makes me tremendously happy. It it something I love.

It’s also pretty important for our kids.

Music education has benefits to the brain’s cognitive development – and kids who are involved in music programs quite often get better scores in English and math than kids without music education programs. Studies have also shown that music education can improve how the brain processes the spoken word, and musically trained kids score better on memory tests. (Source: Save the Music).

And art? We’re talking advantages to honing those fine motor skills, imagination, sense of time and place, focusing, uniqueness. Shall I go on?  (Source)

But reading is crucial.

Math is crucial.

Sciences are crucial.

So, when the education requirements change and the budgets are cut – it doesn’t surprise me when recesses are cut short and funds for arts are reduced. I’m not surprised – because I understand the so-called academic areas are necessary foundations for all that will follow in school and in the “real world” and the arts are seen as “optional”.

And yet. Yet it saddens me to think that many children aren’t getting a chance to sing, fingerpaint, experiment with different instruments, create something out of papier-mache, learn to read music, try to do a plie – maybe find out that he or she has true TALENT in the arts, and get the opportunity to excel and to shine in one of these areas.

At my guitar lesson the other day, my teacher and I were talking about it. She’s got a degree in elementary ed, of course with a focus on music — and she said to me, “There’s cuts being made and it makes me sad!” The scenario she described showed music and art being reduced in favor of filling that time with more PE class. Given the nation’s obesity epidemic, I don’t necessarily think keeping kids more active is a bad thing… but…

What happens now? What do we do when schools keep making cuts?

For my second grader, physical education takes place twice a week, art and music each happen once. But the budget for 2010-2011 looks pretty dismal. Will they cut those “specials”? Where are they going to make their cuts? And if those programs lose funding, how can they succeed?

I’m torn. I’m very torn.

I hope we never see the day when music and art is removed from schools – I’ve already said, in a half joking manner, “If they take the arts out of school I guess I’ll have to start exploring private schools.” Certainly I’d like to avoid that route — I mean, I don’t have an extra bundle of money earmarked for a private school tuition, and yet, I cannot imagine my children receiving an education without any fun built in, without any opportunity to explore the creative side of their mind, without the chance to see if maybe playing an instrument or coloring with charcoals is something in which they excel – something that could bring them joy.

Had I been raised by accountants, I might have very different feelings about this matter. Then again, maybe not. I find myself watching the budget talks very closely, hoping that these valuable programs hold their place in my daughters’ schedules.

About sarah

Sarah is a book nerd, a music lover, an endorphin junkie, a coffee addict. Oh, and a goof ball. She writes, she tweets, and she sings off key.


  1. Agreed on all points. So far we are lucky that Isaiah has music twice a week and PE twice a week. I believe he has Art once a week (which he enjoys most). My kids are right brained like their mother – creative thinkers who absolutely love music, arts, theatre and literature. Word here is the that the only Art teacher at the middle school favors all the girls, and grades all the boys very poorly, no matter how wonderful their art is. I worry about the day Isaiah takes an art class from her – if the budget doesn’t cut the art program, this teacher will smash down Isaiah’s belief in his own artisitc abilities and any desire for a future in that field. Anyway… back to your point (sorry, I digress!). There are many many days that I consider home schooling. Have you ever thought about that as an option? Just curious! 🙂

    • Nope, I’ve never considered homeschooling. I don’t think it would be beneficial to the kids or to myself and I know I wouldn’t be good at it! Plus the lack of social would make my kids crazy!

      I hope the art teacher is gone or not harsh on your kiddo by the time he gets there…

      If they do cut the art programs, I wonder if the parents can band together and fill in the gaps somehow by volunteering. It would take coordination and a lot of work, but… it beats the alternative.

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