Did you know researchers have found a definite link between music skills and achievements in math and English? One study involved 90 boys from ages 6 to 15. Half of them were in the school orchestra and the other half had no musical training. The music students retained more words in a verbal memory test than the non-music students.
Exposure to music education is most critical for at-risk youth, even those who have already been arrested and jailed. Studies show the arts can help those troubled youngsters from going back into the criminal justice system. Music can increase their self-esteem, develop creative thinking, problem solving and communications skills. (Remember we presently spend 16.2 million dollars on our jail system in this county - that is your tax money.)
The North Dakota Journal of Human Services reported that music participation is the most effective way to reduce drinking, arrests, vandalism and marijuana use and can reduce the odds of delinquency by 43-86 percent!
The Texas Commission on Drug and Alcohol Report stated high school students who participated in band or orchestra had the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances, including alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs.
While participating in a musical group, a young person learns to work with his fellow musicians, to accept making mistakes and moving on, to develop sympathy for another person having trouble learning the music and have a wider appreciation of cultures from around the world. In other words, to quote University of Chicago music professor Martha Nusbaum, "a musical education cultivates human beings rather than producing useful machines".
This is the good news. Music makes a difference in our children's lives.
The bad news is that spending for music programs in public schools is on the decline. While the arts are specifically mentioned as necessary in the "No Child Left Behind" legislation of 2001, most schools have decreased their art and music budgets to concentrate on math and English, ironically, the very subjects that these studies have shown to benefit from a music education.
We need, as a community, to take a personal responsibility to help our children here in this country increase their abilities to learn math, English, get along with each other and stay out of trouble with the law.
They need your help. Think about how much you can contribute to keep the Youth Orchestra going and growing - anything you can contribute will be appreciated. (Even an instrument).