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Sunday, November 16, 2014

If You're "Mad About Music," You Might Be Madder About Ed. Reform!

Have you ever met a kid who disliked music?  I don't mean one song or another, one artist or another, one genre or another.  I mean Music, with a capital "m," the kind kids learn in school.

I was pleased to spend five and a half extra-curricular hours yesterday watching kids revel in music, including my oldest.  I witnessed my daughter learn how to communicate via African drums.  Ever since she was about five and nearly gave Santa Claus a heart attack by asking for bongo drums at the very last moment, I knew that she had an interest in drums.  And, despite the fact that Mom was holding three bags and two coats, Mom had the luck to be handed a drum.  How fast do you think Mom dropped those coats and bags?

Then, I got to watch my daughter learn a Bollywood dance.  I kept thinking it looked a little difficult.  When kids were invited to bring their parents to join, my daughter, of course, dragged me across the room.  So, I did a fine mixture of Bolly and bungle.


Then, of course, there was the highlight.  The kids had been rehearsing original songs.  Now, they got the opportunity to put it together for a grand finale with two hundred and ninety more kids.  Where music and words meet, I'm pretty sure there's something that transcends this earth.  Music soars and takes the soul with it.  And, little kids can sound like angels, especially when they've been practicing hard!

So, when I feel the testing-based culture eating at the heart of the arts or even trying to find statistical measures to quantify the arts and measure its teachers as well as its students, I am naturally horrified.  Let little kids sing.  Let little kids experience that joy.  And let them do it for the pure fun of it.

What could some of these current-day reformers have lacked in their own educations that so warps their world?  What could they have lacked that causes them to fail so miserably in understanding humanity and its humanities, to close down the arts in some schools and put up impediments in others?  Surely if these reformers are not tone deaf, they are deaf to something else, the pleas of kids, parents, educators and so much of that which makes us human.  

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