When funding plays musical chairs, what gets eliminated?
BEAVER CREEK – Another handful of schools in Colorado desperately in need of restoring vanquished music programs will be given a chance to do just that thanks to the VH1 Save The Music Foundation.The organization expects to raise $150,000 this week in Beaver Creek as VH1’s 2005 Lift Ticket to Ride event hits the slopes, culminating with VH1’s concert featuring Aslyn and Gavin DeGraw tonight at the Vilar Friday night at 9:30. The money will be awarded to state schools who’s music education has become obsolete. Since 1998, 36 schools in Colorado have been aided by the organization.Eight years, $30 million, 1,200 musical instruments and 500,000 children later, it’s still not enough.
“There is so much more work for us to do because there is still an estimated 30 million students who aren’t getting music in school,” said Paul Cothran, executive director and vice president of the VH1 Save The Music Foundation.Taking music out of schools most likely does more harm than good. But when school officials are juggling budget constraints, the arts are unfortunately the first to go. Explain that to the kids.”We don’t really have music class much. Only once a week,” said Meghann Gutierrez, a fifth-grader at Meadow Mountain Elementary School. “I was used to having it every day at my old school. It’s kind of not as exciting as it used to be. It’s not normal.”In fact, it is hard for Meghann to imagine life without music. “I can express myself through it. I’m a good dancer and I like to dance to music, and I like to sing,” she said. “I also like it because it helps me clean my room faster, and it helps me go to sleep. Plus, if there was no music we’d have to sit in silence on the bus and we’d all fall to sleep.”
Jessica Linder, an eighth-grader at Eagle Valley Middle School plays the flute, piccolo, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone and violin in the middle-school band. She says it is her favorite class.”Every day we look forward to band because it’s a way to be relaxed and get out of the academics like math and science and just have fun. So without it, school would be kind of boring,” Linder said. “You get to go there and you get to play music with your friends, and you have to rely on everybody.”The students came to the consensus that without music, school just wouldn’t be the same.”I enjoy playing instruments. I like it more than other classes because making music is a little more fun,” said eighth-grader Rachel Rogers, who plays baritone saxophone with Jessica in the Eagle Valley Middle School band. “It would just be kind of strange not playing an instrument at the end of the day or anytime. It would be kind of boring. After you play it you know you did something good. Usually it takes away pressure and takes off stress.”VH1 has conducted nation-wide research that shows just how much music influences them.
The studies show that music develops critical thinking and self discipline skills and improves a child’s early cognitive development, basic math and reading abilities, self-esteem, SAT scores, ability to work in teams, spatial reasoning skills and school attendance. Researchers have also found that children involved with music education are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college, and are less likely to be involved with gangs and substance abuse. “We’ve had a lot of students telling us that the music gave them a reason to stay in school,” Cothran said. “We’re not trying to create great musicians. We just want to make it so that these kids come out of school as a whole person, with a creative mind and ready for the world.” Pat Sheehee, music director at Eagle Valley High School has witnessed the benefits of music firsthand in the Vail Valley. “I’ve seen so many kids that music is their chance to shine. It gives them a chance to be expressive and creative. It’s an area that sometimes gives them more self confidence. Maybe a kid that doesn’t excel in other areas excels in music. A lot of music kids excel in a lot of areas, and I think that says something about music,” Sheehee said. “On a much bigger note our society would be at a loss. If you look across the world, a huge part of everybody’s culture is their music. Music and art are often times what defines societies and cultures.”
The foundation is interested in school where music education programs have been eliminated, usually because of budget constraints. In order to qualify for a grant, the school must agree to hire a certified music teacher and to make music a part of the daily curriculum. That’s where VH1 Save The Music Foundation comes in. The organization donates $25,000 worth of musical instruments to each school, Cothran said. The school fills out an annual survey to help the foundation monitor the success of the grant program.”I’m pleased to say that in the foundation’s eight-year history we have not had to go in to a community and withdraw our grant of musical instruments,” Cothran said. “I’m looking forward to our 10-year anniversary, and my goal then is to have enriched the lives of one million students across the country,”Call 1-888-VH1-4MUSIC (1-888-841-4687) for more information about VH1 Save The Music Foundation.Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 619, or email@example.com.Vail Colorado