The fact of the matter today is that many people believe that music is actually dying. Some would think that music is just fine these days, but honestly the truth is it isn’t. It’s decaying. The Facebook messages that had gone across the web a year or so ago are not far from incorrect. People such as Ke$ha, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj are not only lyrical dumpster children – but they have also dumbed down an entire generation of listeners to the point that they don’t even understand what good music is when they hear it. What argument wouldn’t be complete also without passively mentioning that almost all of Taylor Swift’s songs up until she went rogue were about the same thing. Please.
So why is an entire generation of listeners gullible enough to listen to such talentless “music?” The answer might be a bit of a shocker for some of you. Schools. Public Schools to be exact.
While everyone and their brothers has been working to enforce education reform in the United States since the late 1990s (even earlier in some districts), many have pushed performing arts and fine arts to the back burner and put core curriculum materials at the forefront of all education benchmarks. The results are staggering. By 2007, a vast amount of performing arts programs had been cut significantly and in some areas even completely removed. These programs include chorus, orchestra and band – both symphony and marching. Even general music education has been watered down to be entirely focused and centered on core curriculum materials – to the point that it no longer focuses on educating the student on music.
In other situations, students are forced to participate in music or art programs as extra curricular activities that conflict with other programs. The result is that these are restricted to a certain select few quantities of students.
The next issue is that students who are able to participate in music programs and art face the same problem that all other programs face: bad parenting. Problems in the school tend to start at home, and in the case of music and art it’s a lack of discipline and support. Students aren’t encouraged to participate in music, let alone anything outside of school. They also aren’t held accountable and disciplined to continue to strive through any of the activities.
How do resolve this?
Encourage and support your children
A child is not going to strive without the support of their family at home. Raising awareness about these programs is a key to getting your child involved – this is true of any non-core activity. Sit down and interact with your child, be supportive and encouraging. Don’t be brass, and don’t act removed from what’s happening. Be involved. It’s the key to your student being successful and to their being an asset to society.
Interact with your children
Don’t be an outsider looking in on your child. Get involved. Sit with them, help them practice, engage them in discussion and listen. Encourage them to stick with it through the end. Be strict but kind.
Expose your child to many forms of music
Don’t limit music to just the mainstream top forty, especially as of late when it’s oversaturated with…well…crap. (I’ll get to that.) Introduce them to music that is powerful, elaborate and in general – art. If you need a guideline of what music to use, consider referring to the top music lists on the site here. Realize there’s more than just a beat and the background, there’s lyrics – encourage them to listen to all of the track, not just one particular piece of it.
Music is a gateway to improving education
Adding music and other fine art programs in education and using them as building blocks can help improve the learning experience of children. Pounding core curriculum into the minds of children without any reprieve does not encourage the healthy development of a child. It is not interactive, and it doesn’t teach common core ethics or encourage any form of appreciation – for anything. What it does do however, is teach children that numbers are the only thing that is important and that if they don’t understand certain core curriculums (some don’t perform as well as others) that there are no other options for them. Some give up hope because of this, and they drop out – adding to the growing number of dropouts in school and increasing the saturation of the job market in the lower levels of the social class.
Understand what your children are listening to
I mentioned several artists at the beginning of this article. All of which do not go to great lengths to encourage quality listening habits. Simple lyrics, terrible singing, dreadful simplistic sounds and obscene or offensive scenes paint the picture of many songs today. There’s a far long cry from a song as terrible as Nicki Minaj’s “Starships” to a song as intricate and beautiful as Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” There’s also a big difference between the vulgarity of womanizing in a song like “Timber” by Pitbull vs. the story telling in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s “Woodstock.”
Some would argue that the older songs are no longer relevant. I would ask you this simple question then: what makes the gang-banging, womanizing, sexual and obscene undertones in today’s music relevant? The answer is: nothing, it’s pure ignorant ramblings of childish adults who have no desire to work hard or display any form of talent.
The conclusion of this is that problems with music getting worse begins in our schools. The lack of music in schools is connected to the lack of taste that we see today. While so many are focused on new and “innovative” programs to enhance the learning capacity of children, no one has thought that music could help it all, and it very well could. The sad part of that realization is that we may never see it return due to the sheer ignorance of the masses and the inability to take the blinders off of our eyes to see that common core curriculums are not the answer. Music is the answer. Schools are the executioners.