Fills Gaps

Transcending Socioeconomic Levels

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Students in high-quality school music programs score higher on standardized tests compared to students in schools with deficient music education programs, regardless of the socioeconomic level of the school or school district.

Journal of Research in Music Education, 2007

I work at an elementary, middle, and high school teaching orchestra. My elementary is 80% free and reduced (price) lunch, and I have been able to grow the program from 10 to 45 students, with enough instruments for all students. Also, I started a mentoring program with the high school students teaching the middle school ones. The middle school students now enjoy "free" lessons, and the high school students are hopefully interested in music education.

I teach orchestra and piano at an inner city school in Memphis, Tennessee. Most of my students come from a background of poverty. Many of my students believe that dropping out of school is a good option, especially since many of their parents didn't graduate from high school. Because I see my music students daily for up to four years, I am able to develop a rapport with them that other teachers often don't get to build.

I have all my students work toward goals of performances and festivals that require regular school attendance in order for them to get to participate, and I take at least one field trip per year to perform at and tour a local college or university. I also bring in college music faculty to visit with my students about music scholarship and performance opportunities. My students learn how to work together as a team, how to take care of their instruments and music, how to take on leadership roles along with learning how to read music, how to perform in front of a large crowd of people, and how music has shaped the culture of our world.

And best of all, they don't have to sit still in a small desk learning how to use a number two pencil to bubble in the correct answer. They are being creative, moving around in the classroom, listening, helping, and participating in something bigger than themselves.