Cello There: The Funny Side of Music Education

Music Education has a whimsical side to it. Music teachers and student musicians get to see the funny in class and rehearsals. Cello There takes all of this and puts it in one place where we can see a new set of Music Education Funnies every weekday by Gregory Pavliv and MusicTeachingGuru.com

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Reducing Dropout Rates with Music Education

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Reducing Dropout Rates with Music Education

Imagine giving a child that one reason, that single motivation, the admirable courage to go to school each and every day. What happens to attendance? Let's take a look at dropout rates. What makes a student want to give up on their education and quit? There is a disconnection from the importance of their education, as it pertains to their individual success, and they become lost in the system.

What if every student could somehow feel a connection to their daily classes? If a student has difficulty in academics, and they are nonathletic, and they are not part of a popular group, how can we expect the students to fit in? Music is universal, every student listens to it and every student can participate.


According to the Foundation for Educational Choice, about 19% of California high school students in any ninth-grade class will drop out over a four-year period.  During the 2007-2008 school years, 98,420 public high school students dropped out.

There is an infinite amount of repercussions that exist socio-economically including the direct impact on personal income and California's revenue received through income taxes. When the average educational engine or political think tank sees the statistic, they see a failure in the schools to retain students. But why is no investment made in determining how to retain the students?


California alone has lost an average of $54 billion dollars in revenue each year because they have allowed these alarming dropout rates to continue without examining how to correct the problem. What if students could latch onto music education as something they related to: (whether it be choir, band or general music)? Get them in the door and then the experts in the classrooms (our teachers) will be able to use curriculum mapping to teach across the curriculum drawing from the excitement from other topics in an effort to have students retain knowledge in core subjects.


Block scheduling has gone viral through the United States public education system. For some perspective, look at it from the average student point of view. Imagine the worst movie starring your least favorite actors. Then imagine being forced to watch it twice in a row. Despite all of the academic proof that shows decreases in time spent in music and increases in time spent in core subjects does NOT increase test scores, this is still going on rampantly through school systems.

Could it be as simple as ‘block scheduling’ is the easiest schedule to make and therefore requires the least amount of effort by administration to create? Imagine how unmotivated this style of scheduling leaves students. And imagine how low a priority Music Education is given. Today’s students are driven by social media, the internet and video games (each of which is all about instantaneous gratification and quick pulses of information being absorbed as quickly as possible.)

Why would anyone expect traditional educational methods including traditional scheduling paradigms to work?


You do not need a doctorate in pediatric psychology to understand that the attention span of your average high school freshmen is mere minutes. Yet, school district after school district feels that if their scores need to improve on standardized tests, the best thing to do is to make the classes twice, three times or even four times as long.  Then the arts, music classes, band programs, etc., begin to get cut or even removed.

Without giving away the personal information of the hundreds of Principals I have interviewed over the years, I can tell you as a plain and terrifyingly true fact that block scheduling exists purely as a way in which the school system feels it can protect itself when the scores don't improve.

As a parent, this terrifies and disgusts me. As a former educator, I completely understand and am embarrassed. And as an advocate for music education, I feel that the answer is a far simpler solution. Imagine giving a child that one reason, that single motivation, the admirable courage to go to school each and every day. What happens to attendance?


Students with more emotional investment in their education, do better. That is a simple truth that any parent or teacher can say with confidence. If a child is detached from school, has no motivation or connection to their classes, WHY would that child WANT to learn? Many of us (I have been guilty of this myself from time to time) feel that our children should gladly go to school, willingly listen and intuitively remember every gem that comes from their teachers’ mouths.

But that’s not reality.  You know what is, giving students a reason to go to school. Sure, in some instances, music isn’t the answer. But in many, it is. And it’s one of the remaining pieces of leverage even the most steadfast oppose to music education wouldn’t be able to argue.

Music is that hook, it’s that one reason we could draw students in and give them an incentive to stay in school. Not everyone is into sports and not everyone is amazing academically. Music can be the safety net of the public school system by which drop out rates could be drastically reduced.


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