Letters to the Editor

April 15, 1999

To the editor:

I am writing in response to Stella Mandley's letter to the editor on March 25. She believes that reading should be given priority above all other subjects.

While reading is extremely important, the time given to reading should be chosen carefully. E. Russell Hicks shaves five minutes off each period, allowing an extra period for reading every day. However, not all schools are managing their time as wisely. Springfield is reducing only their related arts period to accommodate the extra time needed for reading - cutting, among other things, band and orchestra time in half. Besides time, funding is also cut from these areas and given to the reading program.

Not everyone is aware of the many benefits of music. Study after study shows that, over time, music can greatly increase a child's understanding of other subjects. SAT scores are even higher for music students, with the gap in scores between music and non-music students widening with the length of time spent studying music. General music helps a little bit, but students must participate in music to get its full benefits.


That is why instrumental music is essential. It is not just people with careers in music who recognize the benefits of music. Colleges such as Yale and Harvard look for students with backgrounds in the arts as prospective students. They have found in years past that these students not only are better prepared scholastically, but also have high levels of commitment.

Music is a learning style that is transferable to other subjects. It fosters creativity, teaches effective communication, and instills self-discipline and commitment. Music also instills a desire to learn, which is crucial to any student's education. The reason many students drop out of school is because they do not have a personal link or bond to their school through activities outside of the classroom.

It is important that music education is started at an early age. According to Jean Paul Piaget, an expert in human growth and cognitive development, there are critical periods when a certain skill can be learned. If learning a particular skill is started after its critical period, the skill will never fully develop to what it could have been. No one has ever suggested putting off reading or math for a few years, and music should be treated with the same importance.

Abby Braitman


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