Reading Gaylene Carpenter’s work on leisure programming from the late 1980s, the discourse around trends and programming reads as ripe material for 20+ years later in the school music profession. As the programmer must consider trends, and their affects on the future, it’s important to remember that the programmer cannot possibly anticipate the trends themselves.
With that said, trends in public education, especially in arts-savvy California, show a steep decline in music education since 1999. An older study by the Music For All Foundation indicated a 50% decline between 1999-2003. Specifically, traditional band and orchestra classes dropped over 20%. During this same period, according to the study, California’s student population increased over 5% (Music For All, 2004).
While controversial, could leisure programmers in various sectors determine future implications of the drop in school music? Is this a market that could be accommodated through public, private, and quasiprivate agencies?
Is the student who takes flute lessons with the individual instructor, or at the community music center, at any less advantage for receiving appropriate instruction? If, in the future, the individual wishes to play in college, or even become a music major, is she any less prepared?
What could be of concern is that the above question implies that the student engaged in a “pay to play” service. Is there a role for the public service agencies, providing equitable opportunity for the citizens that may have few resources for pay to play?
What are your thoughts? “Should” school continue to offer music lessons or large ensemble experiences? Why or why not?
Carpenter, G. and Howe, C. (1985). Programming Leisure Experiences. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.
Music For All Foundation. (2004). The Sound of Silence: The Unprecedented Decline of Music Education in California Public Schools. http://music-for-all.org/sos.html.