February 13th, 2012

LISTEN: John Merrow And Placido Domingo

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Learning Matters produced a piece for PBS NewsHour about music education. Producer Cat McGrath and correspondent John Merrow worked with the Harmony Program, which offers free after-school music education to mostly low-income students. The program is modeled on similar efforts in Venezuela, known as El Sistema. You can watch it above.

World-renowned opera star Placido Domingo conducted a concert of NYC-area students — from P.S. 129 and P.S. 152 — as part of his work with the Harmony Program; that concert is featured in the video above.

Here, we present exclusive audio of John Merrow’s full interview with Placido Domingo. You can listen to the discussion by clicking the play button above on the audio player.


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3 comments

Love the take that music should be mandatory. I have long felt that our push toward all things STEM misses the point that not all students are motivated or inspired to study those subjects. Some are moved by music and the other arts and they may arrive at STEM subjects naturally, but some of us simply are humanities people!

After-school programs are great, but there are kids who do not live where these things are available. I’m thinking of rural schools and also thinking about tight budgets in almost every charter I know of. Some places do not have wealthy benefactors and this expense is dumped back on to parents. In a sense, this can create another achievement gap–lack of access to various students solely based on zip code. While virtual programs of varying kinds could even the playing fields, these are still not tested enough for many. So, again, it feels like a divide is being created.

Even with what may appear to be contrarian statements about what John discussed with Placido Domingo, I actually feel we have pushed the arts out of school as far as we dare do so. With pieces like this, maybe we can talk about how to appropriately an adequately fund arts education for all. Kis who have exposure to performance arts are more likely to do well overall as students in high school and in college, so I fail to see why it can’t be on the table as a crucial piece of the discussion.

Thanks as always Learning Matters for getting the grey matter percolating early in the day!

Correction to an above paragraph (sorry): “… maybe we can talk about how to appropriately AND adequately fund arts education for all. KIDS who have exposure to performance arts are more likely to do well overall as students in high school and in college, so I fail to see why it can’t be on the table as a crucial piece of the discussion.”

Darren — as always, thanks for your thoughts, ideas, and comments. They are always appreciated. Budget is, of course, a concern. That issue may never be truly solved, alas. But … the goal is providing joy and passion, no? That is what these El Sistema-inspired programs seem to do, or at least endeavor to do.




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