Letter to the Editor
Music education strengthens communities
Duluth News Tribune
January 24, 2005
Music doesn't cost our community, it is an investment, one that pays dividends in multiple ways.
Numerous recent studies have revealed that music has an astonishingly positive effect on brain development. (You should hear the undergraduate non-music major orchestras at Harvard, Yale, Princeton or MIT, schools populated by kids whose advanced musical studies fuel, not hinder, their exceptional academic achievement.)
And cutting-edge economic theory holds that the communities with the most thriving economies are the ones that provide the greatest creative outlets. These are communities whose individuals are encouraged to explore the creativity that exists in each of us, leading to increased entrepreneurship, leading to jobs. For this reason major cities such as Baltimore and Pittsburgh are taking steps to build their economies through investment in the arts.
Thirty years ago, the Duluth city schools had three music supervisors. Today we have none. The recent restoration of a .4 music curriculum position is, as I said in addressing the School Board recently, a welcome step in the right direction. But the reduced investment in music, rather than resulting from economic struggles, may actually have exacerbated them.
Much more importantly, music can allow us to reach inside ourselves, to touch our souls, to make us better. It is not just a nice accessory to life, it is a magic pill. Let's not forget to take it.
The writer is music director of the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra.