A nonprofit dedicated to promoting music for children has used the results of a classic study showing early music education linked with better testing performance to stop cuts to arts education. The arts are identified as a core subject by state and federal agency, but often dont show up in the measurement of standardized testing that determines funding.
Music specialists are often cut from the budget, because there appear to be no directly measurable benefits.
However, the Kirkland-based nonprofit Children’s Music Foundation thinks music is too important to children’s development to lose.
The president, Rourke O’Brien, frequently relies upon a 1997 study by UCLA’s James Catterall which shows that students with a musical education that had been tracked for ten years performed better on standardized testing.
“The biggest finding was that the impact is cumulative,” said O’Brien, a Bellevue resident. “So if you start early the impact over time is quite huge. If you delay that to 3rd or 4th grade, you miss years you never get back.”
The Children’s Music Foundation has produced a video-based music curriculum for 4- to 6-year-old students that can be facilitated by teachers untrained in music.
The curriculum, First Note, was adopted on a pilot basis by Bellevue School District Early Learning for the summer Head Start program.
Produced in the style of a children’s television show, the 30-lesson series introduces basic musical concepts over the course of an academic year. The lessons are taught by “Miss Melody,” played by Kirkland music educator Rachel Brackett, and feature musical “guest stars” from around the world.
Each lesson contains four to five “pause points” where the facilitating teacher can stop the video and reinforce the concepts with students.
“At those pause points, (teachers) may do their own activity that they prefer, or that they’re comfortable demonstrating to their kids,” O’Brien said.