In the Living section of today's Roundup, Ron Sadlier, part-time orchestra director for the Payson Unified School District, makes an effective case for the creation of a "full-blown high school orchestra commensurate with other fine PUSD programs."
To accomplish this, Sadlier needs the financial resources to offer orchestra classes at grade levels where they are currently not available -- especially the seventh and eighth grades at Rim Country Middle School. If this were to ever happen, Sadlier believes the community might one day have its very own symphony orchestra like the Silver Creek Symphony Orchestra in the White Mountains.
Sadlier makes a solid case for a community commitment to an orchestra program and the other fine arts, calling it "a mark of prestige" for a community. For the individual, he calls it "a humanizing thing."
"What's the use of making money if you're not going to be human -- if you're not going to appreciate things," he said. "It just opens you up."
Another strong advocate of the fine arts is RCMS middle school band teacher Mike Buskirk who has researched the impact of music and fine arts throughout history. In a college paper he wrote in 1997, Buskirk points out that music has been an important part of virtually every human culture and quotes folk song scholar Edward Ives:
"I can understand why all peoples have to gather food, construct some sort of shelter, or develop systems of kinship or political and social organizations," Ives said. "But why they have to make music is beyond me. Yet make it they do, always."
Buskirk's research also turned up some very tangible benefits:
- Students who take music appreciation courses score an average of 51 points higher on the verbal section and 39 points on the math section of the SAT.
- Music classes increase reading comprehension from 30 to 50 points in a six-month period.
- Students who listened to Mozart for 10 minutes before taking an IQ test scored nine points higher than those who didn't.
- Preschoolers with some musical training scored 80 percent higher on object-assembly tasks than those with no musical training.
- Ninety percent of 1,000 congressmen and Fortune 500 CEOs say that playing a musical instrument helped them develop "character and leadership skills."
But the bottom line for Buskirk underscores the intangible benefits of music.
"Music is beyond practical need," he wrote in his paper. "It is a deeper human necessity to create order, beauty and meaning out of the elements which make up the universe.... Why is it not an integral part of every school curriculum?"
Sadlier hopes to form an advocacy group committed to building an orchestral program in the Rim country. We support his efforts and encourage like-minded parents and residents to get involved.
To learn how you can get involved, contact Sadlier at (928) 468-1757 or firstname.lastname@example.org.