Many government and schools have been deciding on whether they are to officially put music in the school curriculum or not. In fact, some public schools have already made budget cuts and one of the programs being eliminated from the list is music class/education. However, many would still insist that music should be kept in the curriculum, since it makes positive effect upon the lives of every student. Thus, it is worthy of note that in making such position on having music in the curriculum, the specific and practical influence of music should be determined. To know the beneficial aspects within music is to know whether it is highly recommendable as part of a person’s education or not.
Music has always been a part of human life. Its diversity (rock, classical, jazz, etc.) pertains to the fact that music is something adopted by people of various ages, generations, and culture. Besides, as technology grows, music is becoming more promoted to the public. Gadgets have more capability of producing clear sounds of every musical piece; electronics provide greater complement in composing or creating music. For some, music is the tenacious of all cultural elements (Titon xviii), representing the diversity and peculiarity of cultural styles. Many proponent of music holds that music is every individual’s way of life.
One implication of this is that music is viewed as “the politics of participation”. A famous European composer, Igor Stravinsky, holds that the way people use and adopt music shows that it is an abstract, socially autonomous art (Turino 1). Music is used for various purposes. It can be used to make babies sleep, to compel couples to dance in a party, to lift up the courage and determination of athletes and soldiers, and so on. Music compels people to participate, and this is one benefit in making music education part of the school curriculum. It makes students get the practice of getting along with others. Particularly in Nursery, Kinder, and Preparatory levels, music can always be used by any teacher to get the attention of the children. Especially when it is accompanied with a dance, music energizes the children – making them enthusiastic until the end of their class. Party clubs always play music with a certain mood that compels everyone in the club to be merry, and funeral services play solemn music that makes everyone sympathize with the sad event. Likewise, whenever music is played, whatever the mood is, students are most likely to participate in it. They learn to participate.
Another benefit of music education pertaining to its social aspects is in making the students gain the value of taking responsibility. Music educators are always challenged to compel individuals to make their own musical choices, which even include their decisions on what music they will be participating in and how they participate (Kelly 49). When an individual learns to compose even a simple musical piece, the form or mood of the music depends on what he/she wants it to be. A person may want rock music, while another person may want classical, or blues, or whatever. When a person matures in music he/she begins to have the sense of making choice on what music to perform in. Research studies show that when students get exposed to wide variety musical experiences they begin to expand their musical behaviors and preferences which make them to have more knowledgeable and responsible music decisions (Kelly 49). This makes students have the sense of responsibility not only in in-school music but also outside their class. These are the benefits of music education when it comes to its social aspects. It makes students participate with other people, while letting them cultivate the sense of responsibility on their musical choices as they grow into ‘musical maturity’. Music encourages active involvement in various forms of music making, developing a sense of group identity and togetherness (qtd. in White 129).
Moreover, music education is another complementary program for a child-centered curriculum since it allows every student to strengthen their self-esteem. Music is a form of communicating inner feelings and thoughts of an individual. Particularly when it comes to songs, the lyrics composed clearly portray the emotion of the writer, whether he is happy, sad, angry, confused, etc. Music education makes the students realize their capability to express themselves through music. Robert Witkin and Malcolm Ross advocated a style of music teaching in which children were encouraged to express their thoughts and feelings through the medium of sound as part of an education concerned with nurturing of the cognitive and affective capabilities (qtd. in White 129) of every student. Expressing thoughts and feelings are always done in non-verbal forms of communication, and music is one. In music class students should be compelled to make their musical pieces along with other group members. In this way, each student will have to appreciate each one’s work within the group. No matter what style of music an individual makes, since students know that music comes in various forms, his/her work will be values by others, particularly the teacher. Thus, the emotional factor of the students will be developed, having their self-esteem supplemented.
The greatest benefit of having music in the school curriculum is the development of each student’s mental capability. Musical experiences of an individual can play a significant role in his/her mental development, and active and regular participation with music can stimulate the formation of cognitive development (Harris 117). This is the reason why every parent [and teacher] is encouraged to expose their children to music at the very young age. In this way, the child will be able to recognize musical notes and rhythms little by little. There are particular ways music stimulates the mental development of a person. First, music requires every listener to determine its style. At the early stage of music education, the mental capability of the students will be developed through the practice of perceiving and understanding the style of music. Soon, as they develop in music, specific styles of music will be ‘common’ to them, having their memory exercised. Music does not only let individuals to listen but also to reflect and understand that which they listen to. Second, music requires students to be able to perceive and determine the tune of the music. Composers and musicians have their own way of playing music. Some prefer to sing in high pitch while others do not. Some musical pieces have many notes while others are only played within no more than 6 notes. In this way, students will be required to determine the notes and to identify with the tune in every song. It is common today that many people are out-of-tune when they sing. Many people claim that those who are out of tune have problems with their cognitive development. It is indeed a problem with musical cognitive development, but there has not been any evidence yet that proves that these people have non-musical defects as well (Patel 369). Nevertheless, the point here is that music greatly stimulates the metal development of the student. The aim of music education is the development of the qualities of the mind: creativity, imaginativeness and sensitivity (White 129). Music allows its listeners to be sensitive in the way music is played. In fact, when a musician composes or develops a musical piece, he/she is to be sensitive by perceiving the sound produced – whether the result sounds good or not and whether it is appropriate in relation to the other parts of the entire musical piece. It also develops the metal capability of the students in terms of imaginativeness. Composers and musicians are always imaginative, wherein they think deeply on how their music will be perceived by their listeners. They will have to think on what others would comment on their music. And this leads to another mental development which has to do with the creativity of the student. As aforementioned, there are musical pieces and songs that can be played with only 4 to 5 chords, while there are those that have more creative melodies. In music education, the student is given the privilege of developing his/her creativity skills by means of making his/her own music. When a student becomes able to develop musical pieces that have more distinguishable melodies, without having each melody become out of tune, he/she had a certain mental development. The capability to perceive and to produce various tunes through the created music is a proof of the development of the student.
As a person explores the world of music, significant development happens within that person. This is the main reason why music should be kept in the school curriculum. It portrays the inner self of the student. It reveals the emotional status of the musician; it allows a person to practice being socially participative; and it reveals the thoughts of the person and in the same time develops his/her mental capability. Music allows a student to be who he/she is. Besides, as soon as he/she becomes attached to a form of music, which he/she wants in particular, freedom is gained. But still, most of all, the greatest good music provides has to do with the personal, social, mental and physical development of the child. Although such development in the context of music may not be directly relational to the development in other contexts of life, students will have significant development within themselves. Therefore, with such benefits of having music a part of a person’s life, having music education part of the school curriculum would certainly be good and beneficial as well.
Harris, Maureen. Music and the Young Mind: Enhancing Brain Development and Engaging Learning. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2009. Print.
Kelly, Steven. Teaching Music in the American Society: A Social and Cultural Understanding of Teaching Music. New York: Routledge, 2009. Print.
Patel, Aniruddh. Music, Language, and the Brain. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.
Titon, Jeff. Worlds of Music: An Introduction to the Music of the World’s Peoples. California: Cengage Learning, 2009. Print.
Turino, Thomas. Music as Social Life: The Politics of Participation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008. Print.
White, John. Rethinking the School Curriculum: Values, Aims and Purposes. New York: Routledge, 2004. Print.