Music should be a powerful teaching tool in our schools

When I started nonprofit arts work on Maui about 22 years ago I found that Hawaii, like the rest of the country, de-prioritized music in the schools. So, my nonprofit tried to help remedy the situation with music lessons in the public elementary schools. The argument we often heard was that music is not as important as the basics — language and math.

Also, we noticed that standardized tests took up a lot of classroom time. We also realize that institutional amnesia has set in — no one remembers what it was like when music was part of the curriculum. Trained music educators gave classes all year, sometimes more than once a week. Ironically, the study of music enhances achievement in math and language. Music contains math and is a very precise language.

Maui public elementary schools should welcome qualified assistance in music education from small, outside nonprofits. This often has been the case for my nonprofit. But, what is disheartening is the difficulty we have had in becoming part of the regular school day. Once in, we also have found ultimate resistance and eventual dismissal of our program. As testimony from students, teachers and administrations indicate, it is not because of the poor quality of our program. It is because education in the public elementary schools has been so long without music that it does not miss it.

Music should be a powerful teaching tool for healthful creativity, spiritual fulfillment, reinforcement of the basics, gifted musical aptitudes and group cooperation.

Robert Pollock