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Music not the place to cut

November 17, 2011

I read with great interest the article in The River Reporter on the budget issues at Eldred Central Schools (ECS). I am a property owner in Glen Spey, and was greatly disturbed by the proposal of cuts to the music program. Of all the proposed cuts, I was curious why the music program is the only area of the curriculum that is being targeted. None of the other items mentioned in the article is part of the school curriculum: sports, extra-curricular, driver education. The music program was the only curricular program mentioned in the proposed cuts.

I make a living as a professional musician, and would never have been able to if it weren’t for the band program at Westwood Regional School District in Westwood, NJ. I learned to play the trumpet and learned what it meant to play in various ensembles because of this program. I know many of my professional musician colleagues in New York City are in the same situation. As a matter of fact, I know two other professionals who come from the program at Westwood alone. I mention this to highlight how devastating cutting the music program would be for certain students.

Regarding the rest of the students who would not become professionals, I’d like to direct you to the research of Daniel Levitin as he has published in his book, “This Is Your Brain on Music.” He explains how studying music alters the physical development of the brain, unlike any other field of study. Also consider that, in a world where creativity equals competitiveness, cutting arts programs undermines the futures of all students.

Please take cutting the music program and all other arts programs off the list of possible cuts to the program offered at ECS. The percentage of arts teachers to all the other subjects must be small, but cuts from such a small percentage would be devastating to the students of the district.

Thomas Verchot
Glen Spey, NY