Kristen Rodrigues, a student at Mount St. Charles Academy, in Woonsocket, has been selected as the winner of an essay contest about the importance of music education. The contest was the mutual brainchild of Rick’s Musical Instruments owner Rick Verfaille and Sue Tessier-McKenzie, advertising representative for The Call. It was conceived to counter the growing inclination of cash-strapped school districts sacrificing music programs in order to balance their budgets. Students from seven Rhode Island schools submitted essays last month for the contest.
Here is Rodrigues’ winning essay:
“Band and chorus classes are essential elements in school curriculums. They are subjects that, unlike other classes, are expressive and personal. In each piece remains an underlying ecosystem of people depending on others for the melody to be played out so all can hear. If even one person does not know his or her part, the entire piece cannot succeed. Band and chorus are not like any other class.
Like the band and chorus classes, all people in today’s society depend on others. Society is a functioning group of people, where each person has to do his or her own part for the group to operate smoothly. Society is just like a band or chorus piece. If all members don’t do their parts, the group will not function as successfully. One mishap in a band or chorus can cause other members to have errors in the piece, which further creates more issues. Band and chorus classes teach students that their decisions affect all people around them.
Other classes teach independence and therefore cannot compare to band and chorus classes. If someone fails an English test and another person receives a perfect score, the person who aced the test is not affected by the person who failed it. Unlike other classes, band and chorus teach the value of interdependence which is important. Unfortunately, these programs have been cut from many schools.
Music is expressive and very much a part of someone. Band and chorus classes are places where students can express their creativity and truly be themselves. By not having band, students are more apt to become expressive in other classes by acting out and not following the directions of a teacher. Leopold Stokowski once said, “A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.” Any type of musical composition can express feelings just as a painting is an expression of how one sees the world. By cutting music from schools, ways of expressing feelings are being taken away from students.
If band and chorus are cut now, they will most likely never be brought back into schools, and all future generations will be affected. Students will lack ways to express themselves and possibly never find a method of boosting their self esteem. By trying to just cut costs, future generations are being deprived of the beauty of playing music, and students won’t learn how the success of society depends on them doing their part. This will, in the long run, create a lower functioning society.
As John F. Kennedy once stated, “As a great democratic society, we have a special responsibility to the arts. For art is the great democrat, calling forth creative genius from every sector of society, disregarding race or religion or wealth or color.” He observed that music frees the mind and spirit which is necessary in the free society. I believe along with President Kennedy that there is little more importance to our country and civilization than the recognition of the place of the artist.”