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Back To Basics For Music Education

There are lots of statistics that show the benefits of music education, from increased graduation rates to better SAT scores. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped public schools across the country from cutting programs and decreasing resources.

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October 1st, 2018

Danny Ross a loyal contributor of Forbes.com met with Colleen McDonough, Executive Director of the ASCAP Foundation, to discuss how to put a focus on music back into children’s lives. Below a transcript of their conversation:

Danny Ross: What’s the state of music education right now?

Colleen McDonough: I think we all know that music education has been put in the background throughout the country in a lot of schools. There are statistics that kids who are exposed to music are better communicators, better team members, more creative and better at math and reading. There’s a whole litany of positives from music education.

Ross: Is the focus on technology and STEM taking away from the humanities?

McDonough: Science, math, and engineering are great, but they’re missing the arts. That mindset permeates a lot of education. How can you think there’s a well-rounded child when leaving out the arts? We the adults have to be thinking about this.

Ross: How much can schools do about it?

McDonough: So much of it has to do with the principals and teachers. Some schools are unbelievable, like M.S. 57, the Ron Brown Academy in Brooklyn. Jennifer DeRosa, their teacher, makes all the difference to those kids when it comes to the arts. Do they have much of a budget? No. But they’re creative bringing in revenue to make arts in their school a priority. You have other schools that are so overloaded, that they don’t have the money, guidance or support to make music a stronger component of their operation.

Ross: Is that where you come in?

McDonough: Exactly. With “Music in the Schools,” we partner with VH1 Save The Music Foundation — they provide the instruments, and then we provide the sheet music, folios and learning books, so they have quality music to play. “Creativity in the Classroom” teaches kids about copyright education. Then there’s the “Summer Guitar Project,” which provides instruments and instruction to NYC public school children who go to camps upstate.

Ross: Wrapping up, what advice would you give to young people who want a career in music?

McDonough: Turn to the person next to you-you might be speaking to someone you see every day that holds the key to unlock your creativity. Ultimately I want to hear your story and what inspires you. Let your creativity take you where you think you shouldn’t go. It’s when you least expect it that the door opens.

 

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