A Seasonal Reflection on Music Education in America

Compiled by Lorne Graham, National Affiliate Program Manager, NEMC

It’s always a pleasure to attend a school music concert whether in the spring where students get to present an entire year’s worth of learning, or in December for a joyous holiday celebration. Personally I’ve always found the latter special because the tunes are usually familiar and there is definitely a palpable sense of camaraderie and good will not only in the audience but also from the stage. This 2016 holiday concert season became a time of reflection for many of our staff who attended concerts throughout central New Jersey and wrote about their experience of seeing the results of their labors bringing music to young people throughout our nation. Here are some excerpts from some of our team members who together represent over 60 years of experience at NEMC with a primary goal of enriching lives through music education.

Nicole, customer service, in the style of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”:

“…I tossed and turned and ended up face to face with another musical ghost, the ghost of Christmas concerts present. The musical ghost took me to the David Brearley School in Kenilworth where children were playing their instruments and parents applauded and praised a vibrant music program. Trumpets trumpeted and flutes fluted and drums drummed and children and parents and teachers enjoyed the music of this magical season.”

Michele, customer service:

“Music education in schools helps children learn a plethora of skills; it helps us in keeping our mind strong and busy… I am proud to say I am in the Music industry (even though I never learned the drums!) and that I rent musical instruments for a living.”

Gary, luthier:

“On December 15th, I had the pleasure of seeing a Christmas concert at the Edison Intermediate School in Westfield… My interest lies not only in the communal cultural sharing, but in the nostalgia of the past happiness I felt as a younger person. I used this opportunity to enjoy my time with my Mom who is eighty-four years old. The bucolic feeling I get sitting in a school auditorium listening to my friend Ernie play alongside 8th & 9th graders helps recharge a battered mind brought on by the daily torments of life, and I get to go backward in time to rest. So it goes without much saying how important school concerts are to me, and to the culture and family I hold dear.”

Stephanie, instrument detailing and quality control:

“…music education sparks a child’s imagination and ignites a passion. Music is about communication, creativity and cooperation, and by studying music in school children have the opportunity to build on their skills, enrich their lives, and experience the world from a new perspective…It was a beautiful experience. Music is a universal language that every culture can relate to, and whether we can play a musical instrument or not, there is no denying that music can truly enhance our lives.”

David, luthier:

“…music education plays such a huge role in kids’ lives. They learn to express themselves and their talents through the sounds of instruments. It is so important for our culture to teach children how to play instruments, for many reasons. They learn harmony, how to play together and sound good in sync, which  goes on to manifest itself as being able to act as part of a team. Teamwork is a huge part of life. It also gives kids an appreciation for the arts… I could not and would not want to imagine a child’s education without music and instruments making the spiritual impact they do.”

Happy Holidays to All!