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Dear Musician – Does Your Music Need Schooling?

Warning: Resources are dwindling


by Dendy Jarrett




Believe it or not, this coming week will usher in the start of a new school year. When I was a student, our schools never began until after Labor Day.
Forty-five years ago...still fresh in my mind...it was the day I had to convince my father that I wanted to be a drummer instead of a trumpet player. Perhaps he knew how expensive being a drummer could become.  After all, a trumpet player can live with “just a trumpet.” (Hey, at least he was open to my being a musician!)

Once I was triumphant in my argument, I remember lugging a 40-pound snare drum onto the school bus on our country road every day—all the time telling myself that at least I wasn’t a tuba player.


It’s probable that many of you have similar stories, whether you started playing in the 4th grade through your public school music program or whether you joined a group of local peers and formed a garage band. Perhaps your parents even enrolled you in private lessons.


What I do remember very well about my  school music program  was the endless need for fundraisers for instruments, instrument repair, uniforms, and competition trips. Contrast that with the fact that I never remember the football team having fundraisers for the new uniforms they wore—EACH WEEK! If you have a child in the school band, you know what I’m referring to, and if you don’t … you will. Supporting the arts at your school is a huge way to show support for the arts in general and to teach children the importance of making music.


Funding was difficult during my generation, but it’s only grown ever-increasingly more difficult. The truth is, with every new administration in Washington, D.C., we’ve faced the possibility of the end of funding for music and arts in public schools. While that's never been passed into law, what it has done is attrite the support of music at the local funding level to historic lows.  Our own Phil O'Keefe visited this subject in his "Can We - Or Even Should We- Modernize Music Education" article.


Studies have shown that the students who participate in music have better academic scores in everything from math to social sciences. What’s also true is that students (whether in school bands or garage bands) have better team-building skills, as music places musicians in a position that forces them to interact closely with other people.


Harmony Central’s mission is to inspire people to make better music. An important way you can help us carry this torch is to support our youth with their desires to learn music. If you play, perhaps your story will inspire a child to pick up an instrument and start his or her musical journey. You may just be providing them a joy that will last a lifetime. And on that note, I’m off to take my daughter to her weekly ukulele lesson!







Dendy Jarrett is the Publisher and Executive Director of Harmony Central. He has been heavily involved at the executive level in many aspects of the drum and percussion industry for over 25 years and has been a professional player since he was 16. His articles and product reviews have been featured in InTune Monthly, Gig Magazine, DRUM! and Modern Drummer Magazines.







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Mikeo  |  August 08, 2018 at 3:59 pm
Dendy, Music funding at schools is bad. My buddy and I met an older women that had a ton of cash she was looking to donate to a local school. Since my friend works there we though we might start a music program for kids that weren't in the band.I tried to shop at a local music shop, but they were like pulling teeth to get a decent price on a small PA ( JBL and some Shure Betas ya can't break em if you tried), a couple of electric guitar ( Grestch Electromatics with a Bigsby and black top pups) and a fender strat)and and acoustics and all the bells and whistles that would put together a nice little combo. I think she  gave us 30 grand. I suggested a couple of amps like the Fender HRD series. Pearl imports drum set, decent hardware, but nothing super nice. I think we even grabbed a Modeling amp too. I told him grand some new heads for the drums and I will put them on and tune up  ( I'm not a bad roadie and drum tech either). Toss what hot for the day in synthesizers and there was some big talk about and electric piano.
2 months later I ask him how it's going,? I was gonna go over and show the kids a few 3 and 4 chord cowboy chord songs. He said they came for a few weeks, and then it stared to slow down and he wasn't getting make kids.
The thing is with all the other stuff that kids need to do to get ahead this day, music is the last thing that comes to mind many times. The whole thing was kind of an elective any way, but still. 
The whole school system whole broken, I can make more at Walmart on the assistant mangers program and work less hours than I can being a school teacher around here. I asked my buddy how much a  first year teacher makes and he told me about 35k. Minus taxes, insurance, health insurance  and and few bucks in a 401k  , union dues, you'll  be looking for a second part time job really soon if you ain't living with your parents. My pizza delivery guy makes more.
We can talk more about this later, but its sad. The women said if we needed more money, she had it. I don't think he ever had to call her back.  I don't really blame it on video games, but I blame it on the culture of today. Yesterdays Beatles, Led Zeppelin , Rolling  are today's . Candy Crush downloads  or what ever the hot video games are of the day.
Is there a way out of this, yes there is. 
Public schools need to stop think there's a one size fits all program out there, and start specializing  at early age.  Grab kids at an early age,  and specialize in the arts, engineering/ sciences and trades They spent 25 million revamping the local school, saying was no good. Took out the swimming pool too. I  Ioved that pool. Too booty they took out all the shop, said it wasn't in the curriculum. My brother is a programmer for General Dynamic, but he learned to work with wood and loved it at an early age. At my dads house still is a 3 leg small milk stool I used to sit down at to take lessons  at and spent 4 hours a day with my guitar on, when I got a bit older.The local luthier got started there, building a  small guitar kit 40 years ago.

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