I fear I may have to turn this into a form letter this year. Music education is under attach everywhere. It’s time to engage and to fight for our children’s future.
Dear Principal Kodani
It was with great sadness that I read of your decision to terminate the nationally admired music program at Virgil Middle School:
There is now a huge wealth of solid research showing the incredible positive impact of music study on young people. Quality music tuition increases development of problem solving skills, develops concentration, improves self-esteem and self-discipline, enhances social skills, increases the development of memorization ability and teaches pattern recognition. Young people who play and study music learn how to learn. Studying music not only increases cognitive development, it increases emotional development, and can be a key stabilizing element for those going through the many emotional ups of teenage years. It is no accident that the highest rated possible variable among students accepted into both law school and medical school in one major study was playing a string instrument at some point.
Of course, it is very hard to know all that is going on from one or two newspaper stories, but it does seem that many people affected by this decision do not feel that they were adequately consulted beforehand, and that they also feel that you are not engaging with them in constructive conversation about how to solve this problem now. Perception matters, and this will be perceived as a crushing blow to many parents who know what the program has meant to their children. My biggest concern is for the next generation of Virgil students, who will not have the same academic opportunities their predecessors had.
I sincerely hope you will think long and hard about whether this was a good decision for your students. I know there are huge funding challenges within the school district, but that is all the more reason for you to be the most passionate public advocate for your students’ needs and rights. I should hope that you will soon be out in the streets with those parents, telling the world that next year’s students deserve and need the same opportunities Virgil has been giving young musicians for so many decades.