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Jae Sinnett: Music Education Is About More Than Music

When I hear of schools canceling or minimizing music curriculums, it truly makes me sad. Having 10 students in a music classroom turns into 50 outside of it because of the inclusion concept that makes creating music work in the first place.

When I was in high school band, before I intellectually understood what music education represented, I saw and felt a unique camaraderie among the band students. I rarely saw loners with those involved in the music program. We were always talking music and sharing how much fun it was to get together AFTER school to listen and figure out new songs. We engaged each other and encouraged study so we could perfect our crafts. We made sure to practice the night before the next band rehearsal when we weren't told to. We challenged each others ability to listen and hear. We would debate the quality of what we heard. We would talk about the music we listened to while doing homework and shared what selections worked to help us use our thought processes in a constructive way during studying. This wasn't just in music but across the entire arts spectrum. Yes, that special camaraderie.

The art of making music, in its glorious methodology, simply, brings people together as performers and listeners. It doesn't encourage isolation but rather stokes curiosity to bring people in. While music critiques are subjective, the concept of performing teaches students the principles of democracy in a way where everyone's opinion matters to make the whole better. Their voice is heard. With improvisation as an example, you learn to make decisions in the moment. Thinking quickly on your feet - knowing your decisions will affect the other musicians. You learn to respect each other because you have to care about what's around you to perfect sound. Selfishness doesn't work as part of this process.

The creating music together concept facilitates in a way, the act of merging ideas that offers students and professionals the opportunity to see how what they produce can make a difference to others. That's one of the beautiful things about art. It gives everyone involved a chance. It teaches us about choices. Hope. Possibilities. This is why we need music education. If for no other reason than to offer a reprieve from negative societal mechanisms that bring folks down. The art of learning and making music elevates and inspires.

Jae Sinnett hosts Sinnett in Session, The R&B Chronicles, and Students in Session on WHRV FM.  He also shares his love of the culinary arts on Cooking with Jae on Facebook every Sunday at 6 p.m. Plus, catch up with past episodes