In order to make music thrive in our schools we need parents on board. It is great to showcase music to our students or even our future students, but parents need to see the value of music. And it looks like we need to tell them that. But why exactly?
1. Parents most likely had a poor experience of music education. A sweeping generalisation, but potentially very true
2. Parents simply didn’t interact with music when they were younger and have no idea what music education should, could or must look like in a school.
3. Students don’t communicate with home enough to pass things on and so we need to be more direct with parents.
I really want to start a campaign, which I am sure others have done, whereby us music teachers really do bang the drum for our sector. We desperately need parents to be encouraging their children to take up music from a young age and therefore demand that music exists in our schools. But I don’t think it is always useful to bombard people with the science of how music affects the brain. Well, I think it is useful in some cases, but I think it is good to keep that simple and focus more on the social and educational benefits as well. I also think that lots of quotes are lovely, but we need to make it clear to parents why it will be good for their child. You need to work out how to sell it to the parents you work with. Part of the challenge is initially just exposing them to great music in school. Next week I will be speaking at my new parents evening and I will use the opportunity to sell music. I will be speaking to the unconverted in the audience, telling them that it is not too late for their Year 9 child to learn an instrument!
So lets look at some of the benefits that we can then give to our parents. These benefits can easily be added to and adapted for your own situation, stuck on headed paper and handed out at your next parents evening or event. We need to show parents the value in a good music education – WE NEED TO DO THAT – we can’t leave it to chance. The idea of this blog is to give some ideas that you can then use and adapt.
- You will have the joy of seeing your son/daughter perform in a concert. This is something you can attend as a family and it is wonderful to watch them enjoying music making in a live setting
- Music education is good for the brain as it works both sides of our brain – keep it simple and focus on the fact that clearly learning an instrument is good for the brain.
- When students join a school choir or orchestra they will instantly be working with students from across the school. Bringing together different years groups is great and it can help them to settle in to a new school. It isn’t just about them getting to a really high standard, particularly if they start playing in year 9. But it’s more about them being part of something.
- Learning an instrument installs the discipline of practice. Of course you have to help them with this and encourage them, but once they see older or more advanced students playing, they will want to practise in order to improve.
- Music education is all about creativity and students learn how to come up with ideas and be innovative. This is something that they will undoubtedly use in the real world work environment.
- Team work is a fantastic skill to learn, and music education is all about team work.
- Musial performance is all about presentation and how to put on a good show. This will be useful in a work environment where a project needs to be lead or a presentation needs to be made.
- Making music is good for the soul – quite simply it makes students smile and gives them an enjoyable outlet for their emotions.
- Music is good for emotional health and it helps us to engage more closely with our feelings and emotions. This links to so many other points. Nervous students who find socialising hard, might find a real place to belong in a small choir choir or ensemble.
- If your child is involved in music, then as a parent you will get to know other parents in the school. This can be really nice in terms of socialising, but also you get to know how other parents are getting on. Raising a child is tough and it is good to have parents to work through that with.
One of the big barriers for so many people is the financial implications of learning an instrument. I won’t look at that now, but I think it is something to be prepared for. Make sure that you know how you can support students and parents with the financial side of things. Have all the information to hand about grants, subsidies and sponsorship. If you can ever get your hands on old or second hand instruments then grab them and use them for those who can’t afford something new.
What we need to do is target parents and show them the benefits of music. It might keep their children off the streets and in school. I believe it helps students engage with school because they look forward to rehearsals and concerts and it helps them get through the day. There are so many benefits to music education that parents may not be aware of. Studying music doens’t have to be about career paths or university. Quite simply, music education is good for students & parents so lets make sure they know that!