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FOCUS ON GRANTS: Why MBEF’s Investment in Music Matters

By January 15, 2014eNews

annual-appeal-2012_1When California starting cutting funding to public schools in the early 2000s, MBEF saved the musical day by granting funds to MBUSD to keep music instruction in our schools.

Today, MBUSD is among only a few dozen of California school districts that still offer instrumental music education at its elementary and middle schools for all students.   A California statewide study done in 2006 by SRI International found that only 11% of K-12 schools offered a standards-based course in the four areas of music, visual arts, theater and dance.

The financial support of MBEF has built program success that attracts top music instructors.     Just one example is Costa Choir Teacher Michael Haydon, Ph.D., whom was recently named California Teacher of the Year.

Seven years ago, Dr. Hayden was the University Choral Director and Professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, where he actually taught future music teachers.    Professionally, Michael decided to leave the ivory tower of academia to get back to his roots of teaching high school.   He searched for secondary school positions across the nation and found an opening at Mira Costa on a website.

All my research indicated that Manhattan Beach was a district supportive of the arts from the earliest grades, which was very attractive to me,” shared Michael.

But why did MBEF save music education when funding ran short?   MBEF Executive Director Susan Warshaw shared us that the reasons were multi-faceted.  “We listened to our parent donors.  Our music programs were then, just as they are now, quite exceptional.   At that time, our parents felt strongly that abandoning music would be detrimental to our children’s educations on some many levels.”  Through financial contributions, parents spoke up and encouraged the District to keep those positions funded.

Making “Music Equals Smarter” Connection

Recent studies have suggested that music can be connected to more active engagement, better test scores, and even increased IQs.     A 2010 Northwestern University study suggests that regularly playing an instrument changes the shape and power of the brain and may be used to improve cognitive skills to increase IQ by an average seven points.

When in 1993, the University of Wisconsin professor Frances Rauscher coined the term “Mozart Effect” after his research suggested adults scored better on certain parts of IQ tests after listening to classical music, many refuted his results.  But today’s ability to accurately track brain connections and its activity through neuroscience is proving that the earlier claim has some credence.

Other studies make the connection between music and better learning.    A 2007 study published in the Journal for Research in Music Education tied quality music education instruction to improved academic performance—specifically, better scores on standardized tests.  A 2005 article in The Midland Chemist found almost all of the past winners of the Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science, and Technology for high school students played one or more instruments, supporting a long-debated connection between success in music and science.

Even ancedotally, we see the connections of music and success right here in Manhattan Beach.  Several of Costa alumni featured in this month’s “MBEF’s 30 Under 30” mention their connection and passion to music is key to their career choice or an important part of who they are.   One administrator describes MBSUD schools as having the “musical trifecta” – an outstanding choir, a strong orchestra, and an award-winning band.

Listen for yourself and hear what our Music Programs offer

Mira Costa Choir at their Carnegie Hall Performance, March 2012 on YouTube

Mira Costa Band at South Bay Invitational, 2012 on You Tube

Mira Costa High School Symphony Orchestra, June 10, 2011 on YouTube


Related Articles:

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Playing a musical instrument makes you brainier –

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