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Music is not 'fluff'

Published April 28. 2012 09:01AM

Dear Editor:

I am proud alumna of the Tamaqua Area School District. Both of my parents and the majority of my aunts, uncles, cousins and nephew graduated from, attended, or are currently attending, TAHS. We served as members of athletic teams, student council members, National Honor Society members, and members of countless other academic and extracurricular activities. My primary area of involvement was the award-winning music and theater program.

I am so grateful to have lived in a school district with such a prestigious and well-run music program. As a 1984 graduate, I decided to continue my thirst for music and entered Elizabethtown College as a music education major. I graduated and secured a teaching position in Lancaster, PA. I am in my 24 year as a music educator. During my tenure I have seen many different economic situations come and go. I have heard countless times that the "fluff "in schools should be eliminated. I would like to inform your readers and your school board that music is not "fluff". It is essential to rounding out your student's education. Please permit me to stated several facts about music education:

Fact 1: There is a direct relationship between SAT scores and arts study. According to a 1990 study, SAT scores tend to increase with more years of arts study and the more arts work a high school student takes the higher the scores.

Fact 2: A 2007 Kansas study found that students in high quality school music education programs score higher on standardized tests compared to students in schools with deficient music education programs, independent of the socioeconomic level of the school or school district.

Fact 3: Students who learn to play a musical instrument receive higher marks in school than their classmates who don't. Not only that, but according to a study of 5,000 students in Albuquerque, N.M., it was

discovered that the longer the children had been in instrumental programs the higher they scored.

Fact 4: Approximately 90 percent of the brain's motor control capabilities are devoted to the hands, mouth and throat. According to experts, the fine dexterity involved with playing a violin can exercise the

entire brain and stimulate general intelligence.

Fact 5: According to research at the University of Southern California, "Arts instruction has a significant positive effect on basic language development and reading readiness".

Fact 6: A study in Colorado found that "members of instrumental music performance ensembles tend to reach higher academic achievement and exhibit lower rates of absenteeism from school than nonmembers."

While I have not been a member of the program for almost 30 years, I am reminded of the far-reaching influence of the Tamaqua Music Program and how proud I am to be an alumna. I am positive my achievements and personal success would not have been possible without the knowledge, discipline and passion instilled in me through my participation in the Music Program.

Regardless of our accomplishments, we were always taught to never settle for mediocrity. Music taught us to strive to reach the highest goal and to be the best we could possibility be. I now have my own program at J. P. McCaskey High School. My program is recognized nationally as on of the top 100 school for Music Education in the country and my choral program is known as the one finest in the state. I would not be the teacher I am today if I would not have received the level of music education and commitment to excellence I experienced at Tamaqua Area High School. My experiences as an active participant in the Tamaqua music program inspired me to share the gift of music with others.

Before the board decided to cut the "fluff" in the curriculum, I urge them to do their homework and research the countless benefits of music education. With the national mandate, NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND, is your school board willing to leave children behind when it comes to music education?

Tim Sterner

Class of 1984

3218 Nolt Road

Lancaster, PA 17601

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