Perhaps the most controversial topic I can raise in this era of American history is on education. Every day, en route to my place of higher education, I got stuck at a stoplight that happens to be at the intersection of a run-down, likely-abandoned vocational school that looks like it hasn’t been used since 1986. I volunteered at my grandmothers once-high school and there’s something haunting about being inside. I can almost clearly envision her walking the halls, the scent of motor oil wafting from the mechanical classroom several doors down. Today, however, the door to the garage is likely permanently shut, locked, and ignored. Within the classroom, all things are oriented toward performance and efficiency, with little or no care to curiosity, creativity, or learning from mistakes. And yet we are the first to complain about autotuned music styles and the disappearance of fine art and artists with every passing year.
My friend Trisha and I rekindled following the passing of our mutual angel girl Jojo, and I’ve never heard a more adorably sad remark. She told me that while she was away at college, her parents decided it was time to dispose of their piano. Trisha was rather disappointed and felt that she had been ‘robbed of her creativity’. I couldn’t help but consider the similar feelings that so many others probably have while they also attend school. In years since the budget deficits in 2009-2010, the United States has seen a sharp decrease in most academic programs not directly relative to the STEM curriculum. English, science, technology, and math dominate the lives of children nationwide to a point where kids as young as 5 and 6 years of age enjoy yoga during recess because it helps them ‘de-stress’. I’d go out on a limb to say that there’s probably something far worse going on here that five year olds have and understand stress.
What is this world doing? Forbidding a child his or her creativity is a waste of a hemisphere of the brain! Everyone has heard that there is more neurological activity in one hemisphere for logical reasoning and another respectively for creativity. So this raises a very challenging question; by removing the music programs from schools and discouraging an excess of art and trade-relative classes, how are we affecting the development of the next generation of brains?
People often discuss the ‘good ‘ol days’ when George Gershwin tickled the ivories with his orchestra and when Andy Warhol graced every museum with the latest trendy art, citing that this generation has nothing like these prodigal artists up and coming. How about the revival of culture, art, architecture, and creativity? The more we promote hand-crafted masterpieces, the more culture we will surround ourselves with, which in turn produces a better, more inspired and positive society. It is not at all a waste of time. A wise Facebook post just recently told me, “Accounting, law, and doctors are the works that keep us alive, but the artists, poets, and musicians are those that make us want to live on”. Revive culture, don’t demolish it, darlings.
Hello all, considering that both of us as students experienced the joys of music in conjunction with our educations I thought I would add some of my own insights.
A brief history of my initiation into music would explain why music and art programs are so important for me as someone who was fortunate enough to experience these programs in school as I grew up. Some of my fondest musical memories as a child are of sitting on a couch while my older cousins took piano lessons, this was simply exposure, but music planted a seed in my mind that grew over the years in a way no one could have imagined. Once 6th grade came around (I still had a love of listening to music, but hadn’t played much up to that point) I had started taking piano lessons, and once 7th grade came around I had been charged with the responsibilities of being the sole trombone player in my elementary school band. I was awful, I had no practice ethic in relation to how I treat practicing now 14 years into being a guitarist & singer. While I had started learning trombone I had also taken my first guitar lessons, took vocal lessons as well as piano lessons. Piano lessons quickly got abandoned as that instrument was the least practiced of all for me, I had no time to dedicate to it and guitar had really taken a hold on me musically and creatively. Fast forward to 2016, add a music minor, years of study in the fields of classical, jazz, blues, and rock guitar, and extended study in production and songwriting, with hopefully better vocals from practice and care of my vocal cords, and with a new practice ethic I have been approaching guitar in new and creative ways.
I am for all intensive purposes a Tele style player, but I have been using strat style guitars now as well, learning how to use a tremolo system for increased expression in my playing and writing. I feel that being given the opportunities to explore creative outlets such as the visual and aural arts allowed me as an adult to think more creatively and as a result of that I have been able to think abstractly and I hope that shows in my own music to some degree. I do not want to know what the future holds without having handed these gift and skills down to the next generation, even Einstein played the violin.