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RHS Student Testifies at Board of Education Meeting

posted Sep 30, 2015, 3:57 PM by Phil Barnes
On Monday, September 16, senior RHS Michael Silverglade spoke to the MCPS Board of Education about increasing funding for elementary instrumental music education in the school system. Below is the transcript of his testimony.

Testimony to the Montgomery County Board of Education

My name is Michael Silverglade and I am a senior at Rockville High School.  Thank you for this opportunity to address the Board of Education to talk about something that is very important to me and to thousands of students and families across the county: instrumental music education. Music education funding here in Montgomery County has not kept pace with our growing student population, especially at the elementary school level.  Demand for music lessons is higher than ever – about 62% of all elementary school students signed up for instrumental music this year.  That’s 13,300 kids.  But we only have 40.2 teachers to work with them.  40 teachers for 128 elementary schools! Most elementary music teachers cover 3 or 4 schools, and two teach at 5 different schools in a single week.  This results in Montgomery County students receiving significantly less music education than those who live anywhere else in Maryland.  Elementary school students in every other county receive either 60 or 90 minutes of music each week, compared to just 30 minutes in Montgomery County. Music education has enormous value for students beyond playing music and having fun.  Numerous studies have shown that instrumental music is critical to developing minds.   There have even been TedTalks on the topic of how important instrumental music is to brain development starting at the earliest age and continuing on.  Consider these important benefits as described by the National Association for Music Education: 

  • Kids stay engaged in school. An enjoyable subject like music keeps kids interested and engaged in school. Studies show that student musicians are likely to stay in school and achieve in other subjects.
  • Better SAT scores. Students who have experience with music performance or appreciation score higher on the SAT. One report indicates 63 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on math for music students.
  • Musical students learn collaboration and teamwork. Music students learn teamwork, collaboration and camaraderie, all essential aspects of becoming a successful adult.
  • Colleges value students who study music. Music education often makes the difference for student acceptances into competitive colleges.

But if we don’t expose our youngest students to music in a meaningful way, we will lose them – they will never develop a love for playing instruments.  Not everyone in Montgomery County can afford expensive music lessons and instruments.  It is up to the public school system to be the equalizer and bring music to everyone.

Personally, instrumental music has had a huge impact on my life.  I have discovered that my passion for music is an incredibly important part of who I am.  In fact, I am applying to college programs that are focused on music business and industry, and this is a direct result of my experience with wonderful teachers at school.  I think every student in our county should have that opportunity.  Please don’t shortchange them.  Take a closer look at how instrumental music is funded, particularly for our youngest students.  

The budget should keep pace with our growing population.  I know you are talking tonight about your budget priorities and principles.  Music is core to everything you say you believe in.  I hope you will do the right thing and appropriately fund music education for everyone.

Thank you.

















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