Late June check-in

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.



About mundyviar

Basil Mundy Viar, III, is a newly relocated music teacher in the Palm Springs Unified School District of California, USA. For the past 18 years, he served the students and families within the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. In this role, he discovered the need for a reevaluation of the roles, purposes, and directions of scholastic music in a changing community and in a changing economy. The direction of his doctoral work was largely influenced by this experience. He researches the attitudes, levels of satisfaction, and lifelong learning effects of music training both inside and outside of the traditional school experience, with an eye on the roles that community based organizations may play in this. Prior to his assignment as a public school music teacher, Dr. Viar served as a Program Director for the Blue Devils, an internationally revered youth organization dedicated to performance excellence, also based in Concord, California, USA. During his time with the Blue Devils, the "B" Corps was reinvigorated and performed with renewed excitement, proficiency, and levels of success. Under Dr. Viar's guidance, BDB performed in the 1997 Drum Corps International World Championships in Orlando, Florida, and the 1998 World Marching Band Festival in Kanagawa Prefecture Japan. Basil Mundy Viar, III, is a graduate of the Transformative Inquiry Department at the California Institute of Integral Studies (PhD) in San Francisco, California, USA. He earned a Master of Arts degree in Education from the University of California, Berkeley; Single Subject Teaching Credential from the Bay Area College of Chapman University in Orange, California; and a Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Community and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University of Richmond, Virginia, USA.
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