Help our high school music students

By: By Lori Cochrane Special to The News Messenger
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Our beautiful little town of Lincoln is at a crossroads when it comes to our teenagers. We have a convergence of problems; we have an economic problem of constantly depleting budgetary options for our schools and, we have the catastrophic problem of suicide that has reached epidemic proportions.

An improvement of one will help the other; it’s proven.

During times of economic upswing, programs such as music education are taken for granted. In our current budgetary condition, however, all subjects except reading, writing or math require much more than a simple justification of the expenditure. Music education takes a huge hit when budgets are tight.

Yet, there is so much passion behind music education. Music teachers are embraced and parents encourage their children to participate because it’s what they did as a student and they understand the value.

Extraneous programs such as music education are pushed to the side to make way for the basics.

The rationale for music education is more important now than ever for every one of us to understand, especially considering what Lincoln’s teenagers are up against. We all know that we need to keep our teenagers engaged. We need to keep them close. We need to be involved with them and show them what they can do so they learn their capabilities.

Music does just that. Our Lincoln High School kids and parents know this, too! Imagine the frustration of having to reduce participation in such a vital program.

Our band program at Lincoln High School is so popular that the concert band nearly overflows the stage. Each of these students is reaping huge benefits.

§         A Columbia University study revealed that “students in the arts are found to be more cooperative with teachers and peers, more self-confident and better able to express their ideas. These benefits exist across socioeconomic levels.” ~ The Arts Education Partnership

§         U.S. Department of Education data show that students who report consistently high levels of involvement in instrumental music during the middle- and high-school years show "significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12." ~ James Catterall, Richard Chapleau and John lwanaga, "Involvement in the Arts and Human Development”

§         During moments of musical euphoria, blood travels through the brain to areas where other stimuli can produce feelings of contentment and joy and travels away from brain cell areas associated with depression and fear. ~ Dr. Frederick Tims, reported in AMC Music News

  Yet, the school budget for the band program is, well, about nothing. Rather than trying to change the budget, our community can look at this crossroads in a different way. What really matters?

Are we really going to look at those eighth-grade students coming from Glen Edwards Middle School and Twelve Bridges Middle School into Lincoln High School next year and determine that only those families who can afford to support their child in music will get to participate? Let’s not make this a socio-economic privilege!

Throw away your belief about who you think should foot the bill. Consider the reality. Those who can … should. It might save a kid’s life.

You can get information about how you can help at the “Friends of Lincoln High School Band” Facebook page. Jus search the name and “like” their page. I did!


Lori Cochrane is a Lincoln resident and a consultant for special education services, working for private companies.