I often hear music educators and other arts educators remark of their work with phrases such as “Music makes you smarter”, or “Music lessons will help you become better at language, or math”.
While I understand the passion, I wish they wouldn’t make this their focus, because music is a good in and of itself! It is not just abut supporting something else.
It can be unhelpful when we as music or arts educators focus on such claims; is it then any surprise that when budget cuts roll around in our schools the first courses to be cut are the arts?
In this line of thinking, if the arts exist to support ‘core’ subjects like math and science, then, of course, administrators will first cut these ‘supporting’ courses. It is a disservice to portray the arts in a supporting role. Instead, we ought to talk about the positive, immediate and primary ways that the arts benefit our lives, and our economy.
While the creative industries are already a significant industry, the actual value of this industry might be larger than the numbers show. While there has been an increase in the volume of music, art, and entertainment produced over the last decade, there has been some slip in the total revenues due to digital piracy since the industry moved to digital rather than mechanical reproduction of works of art. If you value art enough to look or listen, please be sure to compensate their creators. It’s simply the right thing to do. This article on compensation applies to freelancers, but the idea also applies to any creator.
To drum it home, let’s not discourage our youth from studying music and art, or worse, prevent them from doing so by defunding these courses. The arts are good for us as individuals and for our economy as they indirectly fund our public infrastructure and other public services.
Let’s instead promote the arts, for the good that they are in and of themselves. Let’s encourage others to be a part of this valuable industry that improves our lives as individuals, and as a society.
So should you study music because it makes you smarter? I propose instead you study math because it makes you better at music.
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