And the word we’re hearing from state legislators, regarding the state’s budget shortfall and cuts, is “You think this year’s bad, just wait until next year.”
School district leaders from the mountains to the coast are going through their budgets with a red pen and slashing, slashing, slashing.
We understand that tough choices have to be made — and that positions and programs may have to go away in order for districts to make it out of the red and into the black.
But it seems that, across the country, music programs are often one of the first targeted in tough times.
This is a shame, as study after study has shown that music programs have so many benefits to their students.
In addition to music helping students do better in math and science, and post higher scores on SAT tests, studies have shown that students active in music programs are much less likely to join gangs, use drugs, including alcohol, and are less likely to use tobacco products.
Music isn’t an “extra” activity — according to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, "The term 'core academic subjects' means English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography.”
We understand that less money is available these days to fund many programs, including music — which is why we’re so glad many musicians are stepping in to help local schools.
Bluesman Mac Arnold has been taking his Cornbread and Collard Greens Festival around the area recently, with stops in Anderson and Greenville over the weekend.
Proceeds from the festival go to the I Can Do Anything Foundation, which works with Upstate music students to hone their skills and introduce them to the joys of performing.
Proceeds from the foundation's student showcase concerts go toward helping the schools sustain and support their music and arts programs.
For more information about the foundation, visit www.icandoanythingfoundation.org.
Here in Pickens, we have a wonderful program that introduces vibrant traditional music to young students.
The Young Appalachian Musicians program has grown wildly since its inception, and the founders hope that they’ll add news schools to the line-up.
The program pairs experienced musicians with students who are eager to learn about the music of the mountains, and teaches students who to play guitars, banjos, fiddles and mandolins.
Since its start at Holly Springs Elementary — the program has grown to include Ambler, A.R. Lewis and Hagood Elementaries and also Pickens Middle School.
Musicians from the program have even started their own performing group — Sweet Potato Pie — and an annual YAM fundraiser music festival the Papa John Foster Memorial Festival just celebrated its third year.
In addition to the academic benefits of music, it’s clear that students participating in the YAM program have discovered the joys of performing, and we hope that the thrill of living a creative life stays with them long after they leave school.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, after the current YAMs grow up, they continue participating in the program as teaching musicians?
We’re lucky that this area has such a wealth of local music talent to draw from, and that these musicians are willing to give of their time and experience to help our local school’s music programs thrive.