Music and art: essential classes in primary education
Updated: June 18, 2012 8:06AM
This past week, I spent all my free time dancing or going over choreography in a theater for the University of Chicago’s South Asian Student Association Annual Show. I truly cherish my long-standing, faithful relationship with the performance arts, which includes listening to music, dancing, singing, acting, watching events, reading or writing screenplays, and more. During the entire week I spent practicing for the show, I was constantly asking myself “why are all these participants here? What is our reason for appreciating art to this large extent?”
As these questions flitted across the corners of my mind, I was transported to a fond memory of mine, in which my junior high school music teacher, Mr. Sobak, had smiled widely at me after I sang a note loudly and correctly in music class. I was so flattered by his enjoyment that I remember having worked even harder to get the notes right for the remainder of the musical piece, just to continue receiving this positive reinforcement.
And that’s when it hit me, I was there because performing was a part of my life, a tradition that had started in my early days as a student at Brook Forest Elementary School in Oak Brook, and only intensified and flourished from there. I realized then that, in all my time spent in District 53, the most important part of my education was my time spent learning art and music; these are the disciplines that have enriched me and shaped me into the well-rounded, cultured person I am proud to be today.
As a student at a university known for its rigorous core curriculum (in addition to its fabulous SASA show, of course), I am still required to take art classes prior to attaining my bachelor’s degree, and I will be relying on the prowess I developed and cultured in my junior high school days.
I’m overjoyed by the prospect of a mandatory arts requirement, the performance arts often involve the irresistible combination of lilting melodies and catchy lyrics, bringing forth old memories and creating new ones in a way that no other medium of communication can quite manage. Of equal value, activities like sketching, sculpting, and painting have been shown to enhance the development of motor skills. The arts allow one to spend time with peers harboring similar interests, and strong bonds often ensue as a consequence of this time spent together.
Recent changes in policy or educational standards have resulted in many schools cutting their fine arts programs, including music, art, drama, and band. With times of economic hardship and cost-reduction in schools, sometimes we lose sight of the critical aspects of education. Education is more than inputting numbers into a calculator correctly or memorizing equations or historical facts. It is about learning to live a balanced life. The skills I attained in music and art class in my childhood are very important to me because they have heightened my awareness of the world and allowed me to excel in my endeavors because of the creativity, dedication, and commitment that I was granted the opportunity to develop as a juvenile. Many think that music and art are only for the jovial passing of time and are dispensable aspects of primary education, but this is certainly not the case.
Amishi Bajaj is a resident of Oak Brook