March 4, 2004

Open Media

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This Saturday, March 6, from 9 p.m. to midnight at Robert Purcell Community Center, the Residence Hall Association proudly presents a Fundraiser for VH1 Save the Music: karaoke.

It would be an easy mistake to make for the average student to miss the importance of such an event and one that could almost be excusable except that you are reading this article. VH1 Save the Music Foundation is a non-profit organization, which seeks to provide funding for the maintenance and creation of music programs in elementary schools around the country.

If you are anything like me, you probably remember hating your days sitting in choir in your elementary school. The teacher (a Mrs. Shirley Brabender Mattox for me) would constantly point out that you were either too flat or too sharp or just didn’t seem to have any sense of tone. I have to admit that she had a lot of patience with me. Yet, I can now look back on those days and realize that music was one of the key elements that shaped my childhood and allowed a native Wisconsinite to pursue his education in an Ivy League school far from the Midwest.

My experience is hardly unique. Musicians, politicians, and other notables have all commented on the importance of their early music education. President Bill Clinton has said, “I don’t think I would have become president if it hadn’t been for school music.”

Bonnie Raitt also says, “It’s not just a matter of keeping kids off the street, it’s a matter of self-expression.” Even Meatloaf says, “If it wasn’t for the music programs when I was in school, I might be in jail.”

Yet, it isn’t just graduates that can look back on the benefits of their education but also those who are currently attending school. The foundation’s website ( outlines a number of success stories for the organization. Shomari Smith, a student in Los Angeles, says that music has helped him raise his grades and give him the motivation and confidence in pursuing a good college education. He considers music “a kind of like a key to freedom.”

Yet the effects of music on a child’s life are also scientifically significant. In an April 23, 1998 issue of Nature, researchers from The University of Munster reported that a child, who is exposed to music at a young age, has a 25 percent increase of activity in parts of their brain. Researchers from the University of North Texas found a strong correlation between students with a musical background and students who had better study habits and were less likely to abuse alcohol. Even more research points to significant increases in standardized test scores. David T. Kearns, former Chairman and CEO of Xerox Corporation, said, “There is, of course, a practical reason for arts education — indeed, for liberal education: as I said in Winning the Brain Race