Alternatives Created by Budget Cuts in Education

Over the last several years in California, there have been unprecedented budget cuts to state schools ($17 billion since 2008). Among the first programs to go in many school districts were the music programs. It remains to be seen how this affects the education of future generations, but one would not be remiss to think that this does not bode well for California. And considering 45 other states are following suit, this may well have a profoundly negative effect on the continued development of our civilization.

Traditionally, the sciences have been regarded as having more intrinsic value than the arts. As a consequence, there is embedded within any district budget planning a bias in this direction. Yet throughout human history, the arts and music have played a monumental role in the development of culture, a role that cannot be, but is so often understated. Music was not only utilized as a form of entertainment, but also as a medium to transmit the oral traditions and knowledge of the culture to future generations. Contained within the rhythm of drum beats or the wail of a flute was a patterning of nature, an attempt to make sense of a seemingly capricious and cruel environment.

The evolution of music has traveled on many paths since the dawn of man; much like Darwin’s tree of life, it has branched off into thousands of directions. Thousands of potentials…manifested. Now imagine a society where the branching stops. Where the evolution ceases. What will happen to following generations? Will their ability to understand rhythms and patterns deteriorate? Will the creative side of their brain atrophy for lack of use? One can only imagine how this will short-circuit the development of a child’s brain. And if such is the case, then it is not hyperbole to claim that this will have a disastrous impact on every human endeavor, not least the sciences. This is why it is imperative for us as a civilization to nurture the development of music.

Though a void has been created, nature abhors a vacuum. Alternative music programs have surfaced in an attempt to adapt to the modified environment. One such program is Groove Academy of Drumming (formerly Groove School of Percussion) out of Santa Clara, California. Since its founding by Dave Sankus in 2007, Groove Academy has been providing a beacon of light for area children, a ray of hope for the future of the arts. From an introduction to percussion to rudimentals and mallets, the school has focused on developing a strong sense of rhythm and timing, and developing both the analytical and creative sides of the brain. The instructors are closely associated with the storied Santa Clara Vanguard Drum Corps, and will surely feed the Corps with highly skilled and enthusiastic young percussionists.

Although such organizations are filling in admirably during this recession, an ideal world would see the re-instatement of school music programs statewide. This would enable these burgeoning extra-curricular organizations to act as a powerful supplement, not as a substitute, to our children’s developing music education. And our society would be much the richer for it.

For more information, visit the Groove Academy of Drumming website.

Written by Matthew Millan


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