While The Sun Shines Make Hay

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Spring is in the air and we can feel the excitement in our bones. School has a couple of months to go. The long awaited summer will soon follow. The end of school brings mile stones to many. Passing from elementary to middle school is a huge step for most students. Then again passing from middle school to high school can be even more daunting.

Sun Shine make hayThese special promotions may bring a decision of whether or not to continue with a music education. As a private music educator I have the privilege to mark these mile stones with many of my students. Some of these children I began teaching before they entered kindergarten and I considerate myself fortunate if I get to see these youngsters grow into wonderful young adults. I will be forever grateful to the parents of these students who have allowed me the pleasure of helping their children grow and develop in the love and magic of a music education. If I can convince both the parents and students to hang in there, music can play a pivotal part in their lives. Regrets,  I hear plenty,  however I have yet to speak to a person who has said to me “I am so sorry I took music lessons”. What I do hear is I am so sorry I QUIT my music lessons. What is it that we can see as the value of a great musical education we don’t see when we are knee deep in that education.
A musical education consisting of performance, theory and composition have been difficult in these last few years as sports haven take over a more important roll. Just recently a High School Choir teacher planned a concert on a Tuesday evening. She reserved the auditorium for that date in March at the beginning of the school year in August. One week before the performance she was told she couldn’t use the Auditorium that day for her choir’s performance because the school was holding a special sporting event and the Auditorium was needed for the over flow. She had no choice but to change her performance date to the following Wednesday. People who were planning on attending the musical performance on Tuesday were told to change their plans on a dime. Consequently, the attendance was low. Administrators would say there was a lack of interest. This happens every day in our wonderful state and country.
My question is WHY does this happen? I will tell you from experience that in twenty years the rewards from the choral program will prove more beneficial to the students and the parents of the choral department than that of the parents who attended the overflow of the sporting event. The most important thing these new age parents miss is the value of a musical education and all that it provides. They miss the point of the great gift of music.
Believe it or not their children are NOT going to receive an athletic scholarship. That is a one in a million shot. I have been teaching music for better than 40 years and I am waiting to see that full scholarship awarded to a student because they are the world’s greatest athlete. This includes my nephew (a great baseball player) and my granddaughter (a great volley ball player). Had they spent their time with music to the extent of the time they spent with their sport they would have had their scholarships.
Not in sports mind you but in music.
As much as we as music educators work to get our message across the more on deaf ears they fall. We have been out foxed and over welcomed. We need a great lobbyist in our corner. We are open for suggestions. Is it really our culture that teaches us ... If you play sports you are cool and if you play music you are not cool.... go figure.
Recently I had an upgrade from Foxfire on my computer. I checked into the tutorial and low and behold.... Next to all of the important things they mentioned one needs on the computer there was a place for the user’s music.  Funny isn’t it, music is an important component on our phones, computers and other devices, however, not in the education of our children.