Monday, April 13, 2009

Save the Music

Behind every professional musician there is a teacher who stoked the flames. I started playing the violin in 4th grade through my elementary school. I had been asking my parents to start playing long before that, not because I had a particular love for the violin, but because I adored the school strings teacher. My sister started playing the viola the year I was born and I grew up attending her orchestra concerts. Mr. Montzka, the orchestra teacher, was patient and friendly. He was happy to talk to me and somehow always seemed to have a few spare M&M's to share. After I had played for a few years through the public school I began taking private lessons with his daughter Ann, who shares his gentle demeanor and passion for music and teaching. Without the start I had, I wouldn't be on the stage with the KSO today.

Studying music teaches people how to recognize, appreciate and create beauty. In order to play an instrument well you must have perseverance, be able to compromise, have good time management skills, be able to look at your own work with a critical eye, know how to work with a group, and be able to perform under pressure. These skills are critical to success in just about any career one could choose and they are the things music teachers teach every single day. Participation in organized sports develops some of the same skills, however, people can play their instrument or sing their entire life. It is rare to find a senior citizen volleyball league.

Public school music programs, and orchestra programs in particular, are being cut back all around the country and Knoxville is no exception. I don't envy the administrators facing budget cut-backs and hard decisions. With music teachers teaching our children such critical skills, I think the real question is how can we NOT afford to fund music in the schools?

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