You are here

Letter from our Music Director about the importance of music in District 65 schools

Letter from our Music Director about the importance of music in District 65 schools

March 2017

Dear Evanston Community,
It’s been brought to my attention that if the operating referendum in District 65 fails to pass, the elementary school band and orchestra programs throughout the district will be cut. Please take a moment to consider the following thoughts.

I’ve seen new scientific documents being used to support and convince the public that music education is important. I’ve seen “Ted Talks” on how listening to music and playing music effects your brain. Over the years, I’ve seen documents charting how well students do in other subjects when they are involved in music. While all of the above shows great reasons to support music education in schools, they don’t mention the greatest reason of all. The case I’m compelled to make to you is not that arts education helps students in other subjects (although it does). It’s that the arts itself are a necessary part of education, of humanity, for its own sake.

Science is a wonderful thing. It has new advances every day. But on any given day, any scientist would agree that there is more that we don’t know than we do know. And there are things that we “know”, but before they become scientific fact, they must be proven with data. First as a student musician and now as a music professional, there are things that I “know” that science has not yet been able to prove. I know that music goes well beyond what notes to play and when to play them. It goes well beyond learning how to play in concert with other people. What music does is reach you emotionally, way beyond where words can. It enables a human being to feel things deeply. And those feelings give people the ability to empathize, to care. There is an infinite number of possible shadings and variety to those feelings. Possessing those abilities to feel in that way is essential to the development of every single person, no matter their age, sex, background, race or religion. To me, that is the reason why music and the arts must remain an integral part of our education.

The closest analogy I can think of here is “love.” Everyone knows what love is. Science can produce data about the effect that being in love has on a person. But they can’t explain the wholeness of love. Nobody would argue love’s importance to a person. And it is no coincidence that the feelings generated by music seem to come from the same deep, unexplained place that love comes from. Music is necessary to human existence. For its own sake. And it should be prioritized accordingly in our schools.

Lawrence Eckerling
Music Director
Evanston Symphony Orchestra

For more information, please visit