Art, music, dance, theater—so many genres of performing arts. A child on stage at their first recital, playing their instrument. So nervous, yet so confident. As I think about that child, I think about my own experiences, my own love of the arts. I have been involved in performing arts programs my entire academic career. I knew that music was my passion for as long as I can remember.  As I sit and think about how music has molded me as the strong, confident woman I am today, I often think what would life have been like for me without these performing arts programs. Without this introduction into this world of possibility, who knows where my life would have ended up.

Unfortunately, many schools in Southeastern Michigan are not understanding the neccessity of these programs. According to the Lansing Public Schools District, over 50 music and art teachers will be fired. The main reason is money. The District claims that they will have to “scrape together $6 million in savings” in order to keep these teachers. Why are they the first ones to go? These programs are very essential in the nourishment and development of children.

One of the main reasons why schools should consider keeping music programs is the fact that these programs help the children be a successful person in society. The arts are the fabric of our society, and by educating children about ithelps to make them more well-rounded. It teaches them to think critically and to be able to solve international problems. These programs ultimately help to make the child a model citizen as well. According to the Texas Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse Report, “Secondary students who participated in band or orchestra
reported the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances (alcohol,
tobacco, illicit drugs)”. Not only does staying active in a music program help to keep your child off the streets and a dangerous path, particpating in them is recommended for college-bound students. The U.S. Department of Education says that “Many colleges view participation in the arts and music as a valuable experience that broadens students’ understanding and appreciation of the world around them. It is also well known and widely recognized that the arts contribute significantly to children’s intellectual development”.

Another positive reason why music programs are important is the success in developing intelligence. According to Dr. Laurel Trainor, Prof. of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behavior at McMaster University, “young children who take music lessons show different brain development and improved memory over the course of a year, compared to children who do not receive musical training”. I think that this quote speaks for itself. It is a proven fact that being actively involved in these programs can help struture a child’s entire intellect. It helps students learn to think outside of the box and to be open to more creative ways of learning.

Lastly, participation in a music program can help students be successful in life. The arts instill in students many habits of the mind that can last a lifetime. Nick Rabkin, Executive Director of the Center for Arts Policy, Columbia College Chicago, said that “the arts are not just affective and expressive. They are also deeply cognitive. They develop the tools of thinking itself: careful observation of the world, mental representation of what is observed or imagined, abstraction from complexity, pattern recognition and development, symbolic and metaphoric representation, and qualitative judgment. We use these same thinking tools in science, philosophy, math and history”. So according to Rabkin, education and participation in music programs are also essential in learning history and math. These students have the best of both worlds, and definitely the upper hand in achieving academic success.

The sad truth is that although these performing arts programs have a positive affect on youth across Southeast Michigan, and the country, they are disappering rapidly. The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) estimates that there are 108,000 students who don’t receive any arts education in their schools, even though their website claim that the MDE is working diligently to provide ALL students with an education in the arts. Some may not see the importance music, dance, art, and theater may have on a child’s life, but personally it has made me who I am. I am a proud supporter of performing arts programs, because the statistics speaks for itself.