Future Focus: Test Scores or Arts?

In a recent publication by the Detroit Free Press we see music gain appleheartfruitspotlight amongst political battles being fought over changes in education budgets across all 50 states. Music education is being swept under the carpet of the congressional isles that can’t seem to get along on the many issues that are facing our country. As our country leaders continue to fight, we see drastic changes in the way we deliver arts education to the next generation. Separate entities are taking initiative to enable programs that support the creative arts education beyond what is fiscally allotted by the government.

Keith Wunderlich, the author of the DFP article showcased how the community took important action towards furthering this mission:

Then something extraordinary happened. People in the community stepped forward and began working with New Haven Community Schools to bring the music back. They dug up old sheet music. They donated old clarinets, flutes, guitars, drum sets and more that had been gathering dust in attics, spare bedrooms and garages. In addition to musical instruments, the community gave our students their time and financial support.

We heard the same chorus again and again: These community residents, many of them products of New Haven Community Schools, kept saying how music had been such an important part of their education, how music had helped them become who they are today.

Our community came together with educators and students to help provide a solution to a challenge all public schools in Michigan face, and that was how to save a program the community wanted but could no longer afford.

Music and education in the arts is different than any other academic field and, should be approached as such. Creativity, as a whole, is difficult to score, analyze, and standardize. For this reason, we find that when communities and individuals take action in supporting education systems and institutions in the development of arts programs there is advancement amongst students in all areas of education. Music has been shown to connect both sides of the brain, allowing for the student to understand various other subject matter in a more comprehensive manner.

Wunderlich goes on to state that many of our current successful leaders have benefited from arts in their lives, stating:

Music education has been linked to so many singularly successful people that its impact cannot be ignored. Google co-founder Larry Page (high school saxophone), former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan (clarinet), Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (guitar), former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (piano) and so many other highly successful individuals credit their music education for giving them the courage to create, to collaborate for success, to see solutions where none may be immediately obvious.

Conclusively, our focus on test scores are important so that the future our our world is smart and well educated. Arts education is experiential; the student learns best when experiencing the application of what he has learned. This could be argued as being the best way of learning anything. Therefore, everyone can contribute to the future generations’ success by supporting experiential situations for children to enjoy different areas of art.

We all know deep down that the core subjects aren’t the end-all-be-all to a well rounded educational foundation. If we truly want well-rounded educational foundations for the next generation we must invest our time and resources into the development of independently supported mechanisms that allow access to arts experiences. Because, deep down is where art lives and, deep down we want everyone to enjoy it — most importantly our children.  


Detroit Free Press: Source

An Open Letter to Gov. Brownback | Music Matters

Dear Gov. Sam Brownback,

I was inspired to write this letter to you after reading the article in The Kansas City Star titled “Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax cuts, not a piano purchase, are to blame for Kansas budget woes” by Barbara Shelly.

As an artist/musician myself, I firmly believe that music education is important for the future development of children. Students who have early musical training develop areas of the brain related to language and reasoning. When learning music, students are constantly using their memory to perform. The skill of memorization serves students well in education and beyond. In order to become accomplished in music, practice is imperative. This helps students to develop discipline in order for their musical works to sound good. Plus, they experience a sense of achievement when mastering even the smallest goal in music. Hand-eye coordination is improved and increased when practicing with musical instruments and motor skills are also developed, just like playing sports. The list of benefits goes on and on.

While the article seemed to focus on the large purchase price of the grand piano for the Sumner Academy of Arts and Sciences, I would hate to see this used as a reason to divert funding away from music education in schools. I certainly can see your point in using funds more practically to help more students by hiring another teacher, reducing class sizes and improving academic achievement. But, as noted in the article, the piano purchase is a long-term investment. Perhaps there could’ve been a better use for the money that could benefit more students. But my vote would be to continue using funds for music education. Our children need another outlet for self-expression which also has benefits for their own personal growth and society. More children interested in music and the arts keeps them off the streets and focused on positive uses of their free time.

Thank you for taking the time to receive my thoughts about the importance of music education in the future development of children. As a successful young artist, I can personally attest to the benefits that music and music education have played in my life.

Respectfully,
Thomas McGregor

 

Ref: Kansas City Star article: http://www.kansascity.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/barbara-shelly/article9363872.html#storylink=cpy

Petition: 60 Seconds to Help Change the Future! Increase Funding for Music & Art in Public Schools

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Sign the Care2 Petition NOW!!!

Education in the United States is currently suffering from a vast deficit. This deficit is negatively affecting the future of the county by neglecting our children the right to a balanced education. The solution is to pass legislation mandating a consistent and high level of music and art education in nationwide public school system ensuring the future has creative and well-rounded individuals.

Take a stand today for the future, for the children. There is power in the individual taking action in the name of a collective goal for future good. By signing this petition you are giving power to future generations. You are sending a message to the top that music and art education matter. Make your voice heard, sign today – and Thank you in advance!

Media Diet: Why taking a break is an amazing idea

Did you know that according to the Nielsen report the average American watches 34 hours of television a week? When divided out, thats 4.8 hours of television per day. Now, take into consideration kids over the summer — you guessed it, the numbers escalate quiet a substantially.

When you take a look at how society has changed over the past decade, you might contribute those changes to the people that change within it. However, these changes are largely due to the change in the media’s influence. Things have escalated to an unhealthy degree. We are over stimulated, over used, and thrown out at the end of the day just to sit down to watch something that separates the family and promotes the diminishing of values. We are human, and there are values that come with being human. One, very important value is to be kind to one another, something that seems to be made into a joke in the mainstream media. We are seeing the rate of bullying increasing, along with the divorce rate above 30%(CDC). When individuals are spending almost 5 hours of their valuable time in front of a very influential television set – daily, you may not be a sceptic as to if we are being influenced, sometimes hypnotized, by the media.

According to Prof. Mary Lopez(Occidental College, California) reality television is thought to be responsible for the increase in crime rates for those who participate in the reality programming via television viewing. Laguna Beach has seen a significant increase in the number of sexual predators in addition to changes in illegal behavior from local teens since the debut of the MTV reality show, Laguna Beach. Furthermore, many reality television stars have experienced robberies since allowing the public to enter their homes through reality shows via television and only subscription services like Netflixs and Hulu.

Everyone says how video games are violent and that they make those who choose to play them more likely to be violent in their everyday lives and in their adults lives consequently.  Now, the research has shown that the same outcomes are prevalent after watching reality television.  Researchers argue that watching violent acts that are unscripted can cause viewers to imitate the acts in their every day lives. ”Aggression portrayed realistically is more likely to be imitated than non-realistic aggression” (Nelson).  There are three types of aggression- physical, verbal and relational- and this article touches on all of them and their role in reality television programs explored in a study in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media.

We live in fast times where there are so many sources available to choose from in where our psychology has a hard time differentiating from what is healthy and what is detrimental. The  chief matter is our mental and emotional wellbeing. When these two things are in order the rest of our life may seem to be more organized and we are more rational, logical and productive.  Things of this nature need to be protected and cultivated — mass media is not doing this, it’s become a hindrance.

When a mind can be made to believe anything or persuaded to act via media influence, the people within the society need to take charge and speak their voice for they know is right and wholesome. Unfortunately, it seems that many want things to change but few seem to act in accordance to those wishes. Ultimately the importance of having a critical mind cannot be emphasized enough here. Implying the question: How many people must be hurt before change is demanded?

18 Holocaust violins restored

photo: courtesy of Amnon & Avshalom Weinstein

 

The Holocaust is remembered as one of the most horrific stories in history. Today, Holocaust survivors are hailed as heros, nurtured in the wake of such an event. As people, stories play a pivotal role in the way we live our lives. We rely on stories to inspire, propel and advance out current mind set into new ways of thinking. Stories speak to our deep need for exploring  life for deep meaning and purpose. We enjoy living vicariously through the stories of other in order to encounter other realms that strengthen our imagination. The Holocaust yield many options for stories telling that provoke many different emotions. An inspiring story of 18 restored surviving Holocaust violinist surfaced as a result of Israeli violin maker  Amnon Weinstein.  The project is rightfully entitled, ‘Violins of Hope’ centering the focus around the continued joy of these instruments after such a historic time in history.  The symbolism that wraps these instruments like a warm blankets clearly sounds the vigor and resilience that resound throughout those that experienced the Holocaust.

Prior to the war, these violins were mostly used for Klezmer playing, but
in the ghettos and concentration camps they played any
possible tune in order to keep their owners alive.
Each one of these violins is connected to the events of the
Holocaust, each one has its own identity and extraordinary
story of survival. Many of these violins are engraved front and
back with the star of David, indicating its makers faith. The
survival, restoration, and playing of these violins worldwide
creates the hope that Amnon’s project stands for.

 

 

 

Abraham Lincoln on Leadership Pt. 1 “Taking out the trash”

 

Abraham Lincoln is arguably one of the best presidents of the United States. Growing up from humble beginnings in the 1800’s, self-educated, and teaching himself law in his home state of Illinois. Lincoln became president during a time of grate turmoil and uneasiness. Therefore, he was able to express is solid leadership skills and deep moral convictions. He spent little time on trivial matters of gossip and interrelationship drama. Lincoln spend more of his time building strong allegiances with his fellow politicians and American citizens. He was steadfast yet flexible in the way he conducted himself amongst the members of his administration. This established him as a strong leader within an office that lead the country though times of change.

 

Lincoln spent much of his time learning about the people he was serving. Understanding their wants, needs, and future aspirations. He never forgot where he came from. He kept his moral grounded within his own personal knowledge of how simple life can be, with drive to making it better for everyone. Through his humility, he was able to manage a team of men that were of such ego. His strong leadership skills amongst his administration was rooted in pure honesty and humbleness. Lincoln new what was needed in order to keep the trust and allegiance of his fellow staff members. He knew that he needed to cut to the black and white of the issues and make sound decisions based on the information he received. His administration respected him for this stance. This allowed him to keep a strong tight knit organization to lead a country in influx.

In response to critices who urged the dismissal of General Grant after the batter of Shiloh, President Lincoln stated, “I can’t spare this man. He fights.” 

He made changes, and took out the trash when this was needed. In 1864, Lincoln sent a letting responding to Salmon P. Chase’s request for resignation. This was not the first time Mr. Chase had requested to lead the administration. He done this before to use this action as leverage with the president to get his way. These types of games would not stand with the president. He was not about to let a one apple spoil the basket. His response was as follows:

My Dear Sir.

Your resignation of the office of Secretary of the Treasury, sent me yesterday, is accepted. of all I have said in commendation of your ability and fidelity, I have nothing to unsay; and yet you and I have reached a point of mutual embarrassment in our official relation which it seems can not be overcome, or longer sustained, consistently with the public service. 

Your Obt. Servt. 

A. Lincoln

 


This was  kind way of saying “Get out of my house, we have no further business to attend to”. Lincoln was upstanding and graceful in his approach when the time came to releve someone from their post. He had sound reasons, and always presented a logical and honest argument to the accused. In the above instance, the president noticed the pattern that Chase had fallen in, when the time presented itself, he took action to extinguish the issue, which was the removing of Chase from office. The question remains, would Lincoln have removed Chase from office if the opportunity had not presented itself in such a clean fashion? How long would he had endured the games? I propose that Mr. Lincoln would have fixed the problem sooner than later. Lucky for Secretary Chase, he was able to have a say in his departure.

We can learn from this. We can learn to notice problems before they arise within our own relationships with other people. By looking for patterns, we can establish our next mode of action to take. If we see someone that is acting like in a uncouth manner that is pattern based, we can approach the situation with knowledge and gracefulness.

PRESS RELEASE | Thomas McGregor’s “Exodus” Music Video to Spark Imagination

 

 

Vote EXODUS No. 1 below:

http://www.beat100.com/my-network/thomasmcgregor-_34274/profile/

(click on the orange “vote” button below the video)