While taping for an interview for the UK’s BBC Radio, I was asked about the recent passing of Jazz/R&B artists Donald Byrd and Cecil Womack and who would replace the continuing losses of artists, song writers and producers that shaped Black Music.
We’re in an environment where most inner-city public schools have little (if any) arts education left. Public school music teachers, band directors and choral instructors all too often are first to go when the budgets are strained. And the arts downsizing continues just as the 2013 Grammy Awards announced a contest to reward unsung music teachers throughout the Nation.
That said, you do have artists like Miguel, Frank Ocean, Esperanza Spaulding and others pushing the envelope. And established stars including Beyonce and Alicia Keys are adding additional concert dates in many U.S. Cities on their tours, hinting to an increasing demand for tickets regardless of price.
In the end it all comes down to getting our kids interested in “music-making” in addition to listening. Here are a few thoughts;
*We have to teach our children the value of “long-term” goals. We live in a “fast-food” world of information and results. “Lose weight while you sleep…earn a degree in 6 months online...make money NOW…can’t afford it, buy on credit immediately...go shopping at any-time day or night! Compared to Grandma and Grandpa, we have life pretty easy these days and we certainly can’t wait for ANYTHING!
Now apply this impatient lifestyle to children who have immediate, on-demand access to their favorite movies, music and TV shows. How do you tell a child to practice piano for an hour a day when they can master a new video game, advancing from level one to the top in less than a week?
We’ve got to help our kids understand that just like a great athlete, making music requires long hours and many years in order to become good. But, when you look at the big picture, the sacrifice is almost always so worth the end result.
*Start early-Take your kids to experience live music. Many Cities offer free concerts in parks in the Summer. Many music schools and performing arts centers offer free or low cost concerts, music lessons and events for children, even toddlers. Just recently, the New York Times ran an article announcing a 5 million dollar donation given to the elite New York Area Julliard School to assist music studies for low-income, minority students. Check out the info here; This is a link to artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/14/5-million-gift-to-aid-juilliard-program-for-minority-students/
*If your school doesn’t have music programs, make your voice heard. Music education in grade schools have been proven to help children with academics, problem solving and in time improve overall school performance. Join your PTA, go to school board meetings and let everyone know the arts in school are NOT an option but an important part of the education process! And, as houses of worship continue to grow larger, it’s important to make sure music ministries continue to include children and young adults.
*Be broad-Give your kids a dose of what’s popular at the moment, but also a taste of the World. Let them hear jazz, classical, R&B oldies, rock, country, Latin, African and the Far East. Let them know great music can happen anytime, everywhere!
Music is one of the greatest pleasures on Earth! Let’s all work together to support programs that keep musical traditions alive for our children to experience daily.