Saturday, 17 May 2014

From Dumbkid to Wizkid

Can a child actually go from being a dumbkid to a wizkid through music? What are the benefits of music education to the child? Today, let us talk about the inalienable right of every child to be touched by an art form that goes beyond the specificities of words and reaches into the depth of the human soul in a way nothing else does. Let us talk about both aspects of the importance of music education and particularly to an audience that believes in it the way I do.

I feel that today, there is a serious distortion of values in Nigeria; a set of values that put the short term ahead of the long term, that puts financial achievement ahead of ethical standards, a set of values that increasingly diminish the worth of intellectual achievements and also of human expression. It is a known fact that when future generations look back and judge the civilisations and societies of the past, it is first and foremost the cultural and artistic achievements of those societies that are spoken of.
Do not get me wrong, technological and scientific achievements are also part of the picture of any society, even a major part. Guys like Oliver De Coque, Osita Osadebe, Sir Warrior, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Fatai Rolling Dollar and Nico Mbaga used their art to creatively express the deepest and most profound thoughts of the times and civilisation in which they lived. And it is the achievements of those artistes that, as a matter of fact, define our civilisation.
A child’s education is not complete unless it includes the art. The No Child Left Behind campaign should list music as a core academic subject, requiring schools to enable all students to study music and reap the full benefits of a comprehensive arts education.

In Nigeria today, the importance placed on music education is plummeting at an alarming rate. Schools have stopped spending on music in place of subjects seen as much more important. Our society obviously does not realise the numerous benefits that music education has to offer.

When speaking about music education in Nigeria, you immediately realise the conundrum and begin to ask yourself if you should begin the discourse with the pragmatic advantages that are known to accrue to children who study music. Music education is crucial for building teamwork and self-esteem in a child’s life. Children who are encouraged to participate in a music group have to learn how to cooperate and work with other people in order to attain a common goal. This is an important skill to have in any area of life.

 Whether it is at work, at home or at school, one must learn how to work with others and effectively communicate. Music activities also create lifelong friendship with different kinds of people. Music students will also get more experience of performing in front of others and gain confidence through the process. I still find it difficult to understand the reason why in our society, children have problems convincing their parents about a choice of music as a career. A huge percentage of the population say that parents dislike music as a career for their children while some parents feel it is a profession for men not women. Others cannot draw the line between music as a vacation and a vocation.

Findings have shown that most people choose music education out of frustration of not making the required grades for their first choice courses. I believe that music education is vital to the development of cultural understanding and growth of a child’s knowledge and character. Scientific studies have been conducted to prove that music helps children develop self-discipline, build teamwork and self-esteem, and also helps build higher thinking skills.

Whether getting involved in a music group or playing an instrument alone, music teaches students self-discipline. Each day a musician has to create a period of time to practise his or her skills. And by creating that schedule to follow, he or she learns how to be self-disciplined.
The saying that “practice makes perfect” is one of the truest statements ever made.

Music also helps with other subject areas that might surprise you. Maths is one of these subjects that music can help with. When reading music, a musician has to use fractions, addition and subtraction to determine each note value. Foreign languages are also used throughout music. Dynamics and tempo markings are written in different languages that require children to develop higher thinking skills.
Children who are required to set their own schedules can learn how to become self-sufficient and also know how to budget their time more wisely.

So clearly, one way we can bring music study back to our schools is to collaborate on advocacy, to ring the alarm together and to lead our society back to a place where music and arts education is indeed central to our education curricula; not an add-on to be indulged if there happens to be money left in the budget or time left in a schedule.

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