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Music Education in Public Education

Jack Black’s co-stars in School of Rock were not typical child actors. They were kids who could sing and play instruments in real life. Most young students will not be discovered by a casting director for a role in a musical comedy film. Still, the benefits of music education for all students are significant.

According to the GRAMMY Music Education Coalition, nearly four million students in the U.S. do not have access to music education. Numerous organizations, such as the Grammy Music Education Coalition, are on a mission to ensure music education for all public-school students.

Music teachers themselves play an essential role in connecting as many students as possible to music education. Graduates of the Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction – Music online program at Southeastern Oklahoma State University are well equipped to help students access the benefits of music education.

Why Does Music Education Matter?

What school would turn down a chance to boost performance in English, math, science, languages and even graduation rates? According to the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), research supports these outcomes and more. NAMM cites studies that showed:

  • High school band students had higher achievement in English, math and biology than students who did not take band.
  • Compared with students who did not take music classes, students who received “early extensive and continued music education” showed greater ability to learn a new language.
  • Graduation rates for students with at least one year of music were 20% higher, jumping to 30% for more than one year.

The benefits of music education extend to other areas as well. For example, students who struggle academically may have more positive experiences in music, which can create opportunities for self-expression and boost confidence.

How Are Schools Building Their Music Programs?

Often seen as an “extra,” music may be the first to go when balancing school budgets. Unfortunately, according to The Hechinger Report, spending cuts to music education are more likely to impact low-income communities. The good news is that many districts are findings ways to reverse that trend.

Save the Music partners with PreK–12 public schools to support music education for every student.

Rather than provide money, grants come in the form of instruments, equipment, training and other resources. Schools starting or restoring music instruction may receive program support for 10 years.

Schools are also expanding music education through interdisciplinary teaching, such as STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) initiatives. If the idea of interdisciplinary teaching sounds daunting, TeachRock can be a game-changer.

TeachRock is an open educational resource, meaning all materials are free. Standards-aligned, culturally responsive lessons support educators in integrating music across the curriculum.

“Colombian Cumbia: African, Indigenous, and Spanish Roots of Rhythm” engages students in exploring culture through the traditions of this musical form. The four-lesson unit “Math and Music: Algebra Featuring Mickey Hart” is a good fit for most middle school algebra classes. You may find it hard to go back to textbooks after spending time with TeachRock.

How Can a Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction – Music Help?

Coursework in financial plans and funding sources may seem misplaced in a master’s program for music teachers. But these are must-have skills.

Give a Note Foundation conducted a survey on music education in U.S. public schools. One major takeaway was that fundraising in music education is a necessity. When asked what they would do with an extra $10,000, nearly 80% of music educators said they would purchase instruments to improve their programs.

As spending cuts reduce access to music education in many public schools, financial management and fundraising skills are more important than ever. Earning an advanced degree can prepare music educators with the advanced skills to strengthen music education in public schools.

For example, Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction – Music online program includes the course Music Administration and Supervision. Those in the course build an in-depth understanding of the management of music education programs, including financial plans and funding sources such as local, state and granting agencies.

Alongside reading, writing, math, history and other core subjects, music is part of a “well-rounded education” for all students, as defined by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Music educators can make a difference for millions of public-school students by ensuring equitable access to high-quality music education.

Learn more about Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s online Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction – Music program.

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