Hitting the Right Chord: How Music Programs Boost STEM

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Technology) Education has become a major focus for schools, often to the detriment of a school’s music program (although somehow the athletic department always manages to keep their funding).

As I’ve written recently, March is Music in Our Schools Month. But what if your school doesn’t have a solid music program? How can you argue for the place of music in our schools as an enhancement to STEM education, and, in fact, worthy in and of itself?

In the fall of 2019,  I wrote an article for the Roland Park News in their Fall 2019 issue about this topic. Specifically, I focused on the benefits of taking private music lessons as a supplement to a STEM education, with an analysis of the components of STEM and how they can be addressed in music education. This chart appears in the article, but since I don’t like the way they laid it out in relation to the text, I’m reprinting it here:

Components of a STEM Education Complementary Components of Music Education
Development of critical thinking

Music analysis/technical development

Involve real world skills

Discipline/focus (practice); collaboration (in ensembles); leadership; creativity; kinesthetic awareness

Include design development

Songwriting; instrument building; audio engineering; recital programming

Include hands-on activities Inherent in the study of music
Teacher serves as facilitator, not lecturer

Teacher provides tools/technique for student implementation (also see “I’m here to inspire and facilitate“)

Ideally evaluated through a product rather than in writing

Performances: recitals, concerts

Mickey Hart, the drummer for the Grateful Dead, has become a huge proponent of the movement to make a STEM education a STEAM education. Although he was, by his own admission, a poor student in the STEM fields, he has come to realize that music and STEM are not only complementary, but intertwined.

In his article, “There’s a Fire on the Mountain,” Hart expresses the opinion that:

The arts are a necessity for insight: the arts make us human.The energy that you acquire from art and music turns inspiration into invention. This allows an inventor to dream up something never envisioned before and creates new industries and good-paying jobs.

(The title of this article comes from the Grateful Dead song of the same name, the studio version of which I’m including here – I chose the studio version because the live versions are over 10 minutes long, and while I appreciate the inspiration and invention involved in those performances, I figured a shorter version might be more welcomed. But feel free to pull up one of the other ones when you have time.)

While I am all about private music lessons as an important part of a young person’s overall development (because, let’s be honest, I’m a private music teacher and it’s in my best interest), I am also a passionate supporter of the role of the arts, particularly music, in our educational system. Hopefully, the current administration will continue to value that role and support arts education. Music programs/arts programs should be integral part of a STEM education.

(“Hitting the Right Chord” was the editor’s choice, but I kinda like it)


If you are equally passionate about the arts in education, contact the U.S. Department of Education or the Education Department in your state. Feel free to share this article and any other information you find to support this cause.

Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

What do you think?

This site uses cookies 🍪 (but never oatmeal raisin)

Continuing to use this site means that you are cool with cookies

%d bloggers like this: