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.