Letter: It’s time to restore music, plus more

Posted 5/26/21

More than 600 Rhode Island students from grades 7 to 12 were featured in the 2021 RIMEA (Rhode Island Music Education Association) All-State Music Festival Concert, premiering on YouTube on May 2, …

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Letter: It’s time to restore music, plus more

Posted

More than 600 Rhode Island students from grades 7 to 12 were featured in the 2021 RIMEA (Rhode Island Music Education Association) All-State Music Festival Concert, premiering on YouTube on May 2, and still available for viewing at  https://bit.ly/3fuKhpy. This festival was an extraordinary accomplishment, the culmination of months of preparation during this especially difficult year, a year in which the importance of music in our students’ lives became all the more clear.

We congratulate the students, their families, teachers, school administrators, and state leaders for supporting the students who were part of this special event. We couldn’t be more proud.

To build on these accomplishments, RIMEA is launching RI SCHOOL MUSIC: RESTORE plus MORE, a statewide initiative to restore and expand music programs, taking advantage of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund — part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. We are specifically asking that every school system in the state and the R.I. Department of Education, not only restore all music programs that may have been reduced due to the pandemic, but to take advantage of the additional  ESSER funds, and expand music programs to address the past and current inequities and lack of opportunity that exist for so many students. With this added funding, we can ensure that every student in every community will have the opportunities that can not only lead to All-State level musical skills, but provides a fully comprehensive inclusive education for all.

Since ESSER funds through the CARES act are eligible to be used for any and all academic subjects, including music, RIMEA is asking that resources be focused in three areas: (1) Staffing and Schedules; (2) Summer and Afterschool Programs; and (3) Materials and Technology. Examples include:

  • Training for music educators to conduct in-person instruction safely;
  • Hiring of music teachers for added classes, programs, and tutoring including private or small group music lessons;
  • Development of new programs, particularly to address the needs of low-income students, students with disabilities, and English learners, and to mitigate music learning loss;
  • Classroom equipment and special materials to ensure safe music performance;
  • Technology such as internet connectivity, laptops, and/or supplemental software.

Why music? In addition to being an important academic subject in its own right, research continues to show that schools with comprehensive music education programs provide numerous positive effects to students beyond music, including increased attendance, family engagement, academic achievement and career preparedness. There is no doubt about the benefits of music when it comes to Social Emotional Learning. Throughout the pandemic, we have heard from students and families about how music helped get them through these challenging times, allowing them to reflect on their own well-being, their relationships with others, and their capability to make decisions.

RIMEA stands ready with resources, expertise and guidance to support the efforts of teachers, administrators and state leaders.  A comprehensive education must include music for every child to prepare them for a successful fulfilling life, today and into their future.

David Neves and Patricia Kammerer
Advocacy Co-Chairs, Rhode Island Music Education Association

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.