Rock star teachers

I’m married to a teacher. I get a front row seat witnessing how hard teachers work and how dedicated they are to their students — their kids. I have, on more than one occasion, used the phrase “rock star” to describe my wife and her colleagues. Once a year, I get to use that phrase in its literal definition.

Because for the past two decades, the music teachers of Central Bucks School District in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, trade their classroom stage for the concert stage, talented musicians coming together to put on a performance that goes above and beyond their classroom commitments. What began as a simple recital with a small philanthropic element, has grown into an all-weekend, sold-out, four-show, two-and-a-half hour concert for students, community, and, ultimately, other school districts struggling to provide music programs for their own students. Oh yeah, that small philanthropic element has grown, too: the annual concert has raised more than $300,000 for the Save the Music Foundation, whose mission is to deliver equitable access to music education for millions of students nationwide.

The Save the Music Foundation is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1997. Its goal is to ensure that music education is a core component of a well-rounded education for all children. The foundation operates in various communities across the United States, working to restore music education programs that have been cut or diminished due to budget constraints. A report from the National Association for Music Education found that between 2011 and 2014, nearly 90% of school districts in the United States experienced cuts to their music programs. This is a concerning trend, given the numerous benefits that music education can provide to students.

The foundation was created by John Sykes, the president of VH1 at the time. He was inspired to start the organization after he learned that many schools were cutting music programs in order to balance their budgets. Sykes believed that music education was an important part of a child’s development and he wanted to help ensure that children had access to it.

The foundation’s first major project was in New York City. In 1997, the foundation partnered with the New York City Department of Education to provide new musical instruments to public schools in the city. Over the next few years, the foundation expanded its work, partnering with school districts across the country to provide new musical instruments, professional development for music teachers, and support for music programs. In 2000, the foundation launched the “Adopt-A-School” program. This program allows businesses, individuals, and community organizations to support music education in a specific school by providing new musical instruments, funding for professional development, and support for music programs. 

In addition to its programs, the foundation has also been a strong advocate for music education. The foundation has worked to raise public awareness about the importance of music education and has helped to promote music as a core component of a well-rounded education. The foundation has also been an advocate for music education at the federal level, working with policymakers to ensure that music education is a priority in the nation’s schools.

In recent years, a growing body of research has confirmed the numerous benefits that music education can provide to students of all ages. From improving academic performance to promoting social and emotional development, the impact of music education on students is significant and wide-ranging.

Studies have shown that students who participate in music education programs tend to perform better academically than their peers who do not. A report from the National Association for Music Education found that elementary school students who participate in music education programs score higher on reading and language arts tests than those who do not. Additionally, a study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology found that high school students who participated in music programs scored higher on standardized tests in both math and verbal sections compared to students who did not participate in music programs.

Music education can also have a positive impact on students’ social and emotional development. Participation in music programs can help students develop better teamwork skills, improve their self-esteem, and increase their overall sense of well-being. For example, a study published in the Journal of Research in Music Education found that participation in school music programs was positively associated with students’ self-esteem and their ability to work well with others.

Schools with music programs have an estimated 90.2% graduation rate and 93.9% attendance rate compared to schools without music education, which average 72.9% graduation and 84.9% attendance. Schools that have music programs have an attendance rate of 93.3% compared to 84.9% in schools without music programs.

The schools that produced the highest academic achievement in the United States today are spending 20% to 30% of the day on the arts, with special emphasis on music. ~ International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement

Music enhances the process of learning. The systems they nourish, which include our integrated sensory, attention, cognitive, emotional and motor capacities, are shown to be the driving forces behind all other learning. ~ Konrad, R.R., Empathy, Arts and Social Studies

95% of Americans in a Gallup Poll believe that music is a key component in a child’s well-rounded education; three quarters of those surveyed feel that schools should mandate music education. ~ Gallup Poll, “American Attitudes Toward Music

Students of lower socioeconomic status who took music lessons in grades 8-12 increased their math scores significantly as compared to non-music students. But just as important, reading, history, geography and even social skills soared by 40%. ~ Gardiner, Fox, Jeffrey and Knowles

College-age musicians are emotionally healthier than their non-musician counterparts for performance anxiety, emotional concerns and alcohol-related problems. ~ Houston Chronicle

Research made between music and intelligence concluded that music training is far greater than computer instruction in improving children’s abstract reasoning skills. ~ Neurological Research, Vol. 1

Children’s Music Workshop

Over the past two decades, the Save the Music Foundation has had a significant impact on the lives of children and communities across the country. The foundation has provided new musical instruments to thousands of schools, provided professional development for music teachers, and helped to ensure that music education is a priority in communities.

This is why the CB Save the Music concert is one of my favorite events on the calendar. Not just because I get to hear great music and have the privilege of making rock stars look like rock stars, but because I know the power music possesses to impact a child’s life. Both of my daughters are products of the dedicated teachers that take that stage. Their love of music, whether Harry or Hayden, is a big part of who they are today. Every kid should have that opportunity. 

Rock on, teachers. Rock on.

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2 responses to “Rock star teachers”

  1. This is awesome Mike! I had such a great experience and opportunity with music in both grammar and high school. I love that you GET to do work like this!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Get is such the right word for this. We once saw a matinee performance of Les Miserables on Broadway (where those who follow me on Instagram may see the occasional like and comment from the actor, Aaron Walpole, who played Jean Valjean at the show we were at). We waited outside after the show and met Cliff Saunders, the actor who played Thenardier. Someone remarked, “I can’t believe you have to go back and do this again tonight.” His reply: “I get to do this again tonight.”


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