During the past two weeks we have had the pleasure of attending the various holiday music programs produced by each Lake Forest School to packed audiences.
We are so fortunate to be able to sustain our music program here. I’m told by colleagues around the country that they’ve had to cut music and art programs as they struggle to balance the budget as well as meet the reading and math achievement goals of their state. We don’t anticipate that will happen here.
Why? We value the arts as an important part of a child’s development. Every child in Lake Forest is taught by highly qualified music and art professionals beginning in kindergarten. They have class at least once each week and through those classes they explore creativity and imagination and self-expression.
The Lake Forest Board of Education has always included in its strategic plan an expectation to increase the number of students involved in extra-curricular activities and especially to see an increase in those students enrolled in art and music classes. That is one of the reasons we have added specialized classrooms at Lake Forest High School for Band and Chorus.
Below, copied from one of our holiday music programs, is a great explanation for why music is important for all children.
MUSIC IS A SCIENCE. It is exact, specific, and highly organized. . It embodies many levels of physics from acoustics to architecture.
MUSIC IS MATHEMATICS. It is rhythmically based on the subdivision of time in space into fractions, which must be done instantaneously, and not worked out on paper, in a highly specific form with regard to exact placement and symmetry. It is disciplined and logical.
MUSIC IS LANGUAGE. It is composed of phrases, thoughts and ideas. Its goal is to communicate and to reach a part of us where words no longer suffice. Most of the terms are in a foreign language, mostly Italian, German or French. The line notation is certainly NOT English, but a highly developed and organized symbolic system.
MUSIC IS HISTORY. It is the only art form we can hear as people hundreds of years ago heard. Unlike paint, whose image is always there once created, music is perpetually "repainted" each time it is performed. The feelings and thoughts of countless generations are forever cast into sound.
MUSIC IS PHYSICAL EDUCATION. It required fantastic coordination of fingers, eyes, hands, lips, cheek and facial muscles, in addition to extraordinary control of the diaphragmatic, back, stomach and chest muscles. There are as many calories burned by a symphony trumpet player in one performance as there are by a quarterback in a professional football game.
MUSIC IS ALL OF THESE THINGS AND MORE, BUT ABOVE ALL, MUSIC IS AN ART. It allows a human being to take science and technique and create EMOTION. This is the one thing that science cannot duplicate - human feelings and emotions.
THIS IS WHY WE TEACH MUSIC. Not because we expect to produce music majors. Not because we expect people to play all their lives. Not so you can relax. Not so you can trot around a field in a uniform....
BUT SO YOU WILL BE MORE HUMAN. So you will recognize beauty. So you will be more sensitive, especially to all the thoughts and feelings put into sound throughout the ages. So you will be closer to the infinity of your own heart and soul. So you will have something to cling to. So you will feel the beauty of being alive. And so you will come to know the value of your own self.