Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Letter to the Editor: Music a part of well-rounded education

on October 16, 2013 10:50 AM

Frank T. Brogan, new chancellor of the State System of Higher Education, spoke to a standing-room-only audience here at IUP on Friday. (Oct. 12, “PASSHE chancellor visits IUP”)

His arrival in Pennsylvania has coincided with announcements across the state system of ever more budget cuts, plus faculty layoffs — the most severe in the system’s history, according to a statewide faculty representative.

Losers would include academic programs such as music. The winners: trade-school models of higher education. Neither Brogan’s remarks at IUP nor his background in Florida suggest that he might reconsider the bean-counter approach.

But another coincidence was an Oct. 12 op-ed piece in The New York Times, “Is Music the Key to Success?” The answer (from a researcher, author and former editor of The Wall Street Journal): Yes, it is.

The article reported what former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Google co-founder Larry Page and a host of other high achievers have in common: formal music education.

This research goes beyond the well-documented connections between math and music. It shows that learning music encourages creative thinking, fosters collaboration, sharpens listening skills, synthesizes different ideas and focuses on the present and the future simultaneously.

Anyone with an ear for the culture’s current dissonance would appreciate the need for more, not less, of all that. A well-rounded, high-quality college education is an investment in the future that we cannot afford to keep cutting at PASSHE campuses.

David Loomis

assistant professor,

IUP Journalism Department

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