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I had lunch today with two great retired band directors, and as we discussed the future of music education in America we kept coming back to several key points.
1. Today's students learn differently than they did 30 years ago, but they still have a need for music in their lives. They want music in their lives.
2. If music education programs are to survive in our schools, then music eductors must constantly adapt to new cultural and school environments and they must find additional revenue streams.
3. As districts reduce staffing through seniority, music teachers are being assigned to areas for which they have certification, but they don't have expertise. For example, band directors are being asked to teach vocal music and choir directors are being asked to conduct orchestras. Though the teachers might do their best, the results are often less than what is achieved when an expert is teaching the class.
4. It will be harder in the future to maintain current programs, and expensive additions to programs will be cost prohibitive.
5. As funding becomes more difficult to obatin, traditional thinking and policies must be adjusted.
6. More corporate sponsorships will be required in the future to support the arts. The day is coming when a local insurance agency might sponsor concerts and the local soft drink bottler might be acquiring naming rights to the auditoirum.
7. Administrators must see the value of music and the arts so that they will fight to maintain them in schools.
8. Educators in the arts must stress the validity of their subjects by citing brain research about the positive effects the arts have on the overall learning process. An artistic student learns more in math or English because of what happens to the student's brain in band or choir.
9. In summary, the arts are not an option --- they are a necessity. No education system can be world class without the arts. But if the arts are to survive in our schools, educators must be creative and do things they've never had to do before.