While researching, I stumbled across this little gem, published in The Etude magazine in 1929, but still applicable today.
I admit, I had never heard of the author, even though a “well-known expert in music education,” but the essay rings true and fits well with Charlotte Mason’s writings about music. It is a call for “living, not merely existing.”
Schools seem to be in a constant state of crisis these days. Programs, labeled extraneous, are being cut, and sports, music and art are among them. More and more time must be devoted to “serious” study, so that our students can keep up with the rest of the world in mathematics and science.
…but is this the right way to go?
Not according to this author. (Or Charlotte Mason, for that matter, who was intent on exposing children to great thoughts, works of art, music, and literature, whether they were slated to become factory workers or doctors.) Come to think of it, hasn’t research shown that music and math are connected in the brain, and that learning music helps in other areas of academics? I can’t cite a study at the moment, but I know I’ve read about this in the past.
I guess I need to do more research!
This article is a good starting place for our consideration. It presents an impassioned defense of music education for all children.
Secular educators should resonate with the idea that “the birthright of the child is the means of developing developing all his faculties normally and naturally. Society owes him his opportunity for an education.” Meanwhile, those who are educating within a Biblical framework will appreciate this definition of education, as quoted by the author: “The true purpose of education is to cherish and unfold the seed of immortality already sown within us, to develop to the fullest extent the capacities of every kind with which the God who made us has endowed us.”
The author gives a rationale for music instruction and follows with some practical considerations. The child, ideally, is exposed to well-crafted music from its earliest days, learns music first by hearing, then by repetition, finally by expression, while learning to delight in sound, rhythm, and harmony. The author goes on to say,
Now that he has been given a big experience of the best of music and led to sense rhythm and its beauty, teach him that it is as readable and writeable as the language which he speaks. Lead him from the known into the unknown. Create within him the desire to read and write the lovely songs he can sing. Go one step further and help him set his own little original songs to melodies. For children live in a world of imagery and make-believe. Who knows where these dreams may lead, if rightly directed?
While I’d place much less emphasis on a knowledge of psychology than the author did, I appreciate much of what she had to say about the necessity of music (and I would go further, and add other fine arts to the equation) to the development of a well-rounded, fully functional person.
Falling notes graphic from http://www.webweaver.nu/clipart/music/notes.shtml
Rainbow graphic from http://www.free-pictures-photos.com/clouds/