Marshall Frank: Music programs essential for student development

Keep essential programs in school;

Marshall Frank

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

School boards around the state may have to cut many positions in the ensuing years, including hundreds of elementary art and music teachers, which causes my heart to skip a beat. The long-range consequences could be more far-reaching than we imagine.

Few subjects are more important in school curriculums than music and art, particularly music. As president of the Creative Arts Foundation of Brevard, a nonprofit, I have been privileged to interact with many hundreds of talented youngsters in the last seven years who are immersed in superior music programs available in this region. These youngsters thrive on musical excellence, bringing harmony and love to their lives among friends and family.

When we hold annual music competitions, we are witness to the wonders of music and how well-grounded kids are who study instruments, act and sing in their school programs and thrive on music in general.

It all begins in the elementary grades. Much the same as sports programs, music keeps kids from the streets, from wandering into trouble, from being vulnerable to negative influences because it gives them identity and focus. Studies have shown that music helps develop memory, perception, language, oral and reading skills, not to mention self-esteem and purpose.

Some studies have shown that music actually contributes toward elevations in IQ. Music provides an essential element in psychological growth for many youngsters, creating a base for learning in other subjects.

I grew up and later spent 30 years as a cop in Miami. I’ve also been an active father. I can say with some authority that the outstanding school curriculums in this part of Florida are, for now, more superior and effective for developing well-rounded kids than the school systems in southeast Florida, where budget shortfalls put music and art on the chopping blocks. School music programs also help to support many music stores in the area.

It all begins in the early ages. Eliminating elementary school music would have a domino effect. Take away music in elementary schools it will be tougher to sell kids on music as they get older and more susceptible to peer influences.

Though music and art may not be as essential as core subjects, they are certainly more useful to students than needless requirements, such as algebra. I started learning music at age 6. It was an everyday part of my growth experience. I’m still playing violin to this day.

I struggled with, and nearly flunked algebra in the seventh grade, never to use it in my entire life. Contrarily, music often becomes a forever element of a life span.

Eliminating hundreds of music and art teachers in regional schools is beyond drastic. The ultimate consequences would be one step closer to a Miami syndrome, where controlling behavior in schools trumps the learning process. It may seem less needed, but it is just as important as learning to count, read and spell.

Let music programs continue at the earliest of ages. School boards should find other less essential places to cut costs.

Marshall Frank is an author and retired South Florida police detective who lives in Melbourne. Online:


  1. Don Gilleland March 25, 2014 at 7:34 am #

    Marshall is absolutely right. Art programs are an essential element in the development of young students. Like Marshall, I have never needed anything I ever learned in my Algebra class; but, when I watch these young prodigies perform for the Creative Arts Foundation of Brevard, I am reminded that the future of our country my be in better hands than is often reflected by the troubled young kids I see in the the newspapers. Why is it that kids in trouble with the law get so much more attention than responsible kids? Before we cut music and other art programs from the curriculum, let’s make sure we’ve eliminated all the administrative redundancies that cost so much. Educational programs ought to be the last thing we cut.

  2. Helen Bennett March 25, 2014 at 7:59 am #

    You are absolutely right, Marshall! Well said.

  3. george March 25, 2014 at 8:38 am #

    Marshal, I agree. Still remember wondering why I had to learn the “new math” as a freshman at LSU, in 1963, studying music.

  4. Laura March 25, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    In the main concert hall of Interlochen, the National Music Camp in Michigan it reads: Dedicated to world friendship through the universal language of the arts. World peace through music.

  5. Kay Williamson March 25, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

    Great article. My daughter has her masters in music and can’t find a job in a school or college. She’s working in a music store Waynesville, NC. Breaks my heart.

  6. Eileen March 25, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

    I would take music over algebra ANY DAY!!!

  7. Lee Martines March 25, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

    One program that could be eliminated from schools is “common core” mathematics, whatever the hell that is. I hear of mathematicians that are unable to perform their kids’ homework problems. We should stick with the 1 + 1 = 2 concept that has worked for centuries. I was fortunate to go to a school that offered music in the first grade and by age 10 had enough interest to want to play an instrument. My only regret is that I gave up my trumpet after high school. As Marshall mentioned, there is a tremendous difference between schools in Brevard County and those in metropolitan Dade County. We don’t have to spend money on fences, metal detectors and round-the-clock police coverage, and the attitude of the student body is vastly different. My granddaughter was attending a “choice” school which was forced to close this year due to funding problems. Personally, I’m not opposed to a small increase in property taxes to support much needed curriculum costs and the funding of choice and charter schools.

  8. Jan Siren March 26, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    Most of what I know about making music (as contrasted with simply enjoying music) I learned in public school. Yes, starting in the elementary grades and continuing through junior high when I was proud to sing in my school’s premier performance group, its 60-voice chorus. Not all kids are musically talented, but some can draw, others can act. Arts should have a place in the curriculum with status equal to that of STEM courses.

    The campaign for the sales tax increase to support public school education should emphasize how the arts will benefit from the funds, no less than will the core subjects.