Back to School is Better with Music

September 1, 2021

Across Canada, students are returning to music class; some are returning to the classroom for the first time in 18 months, while in some regions online learning is unfortunately still the norm. The 2021 school year may be unpredictable, but music class remains an essential component of Canadian youths’ education and can play a new and critical role for young people as they begin to recover from pandemic life.

Music education extends a broad range of benefits that markedly improve a child’s life: an increase in confidence, a stronger sense of connection or community, and increased performance in a range of academic areas. Music also provides solace amidst the storm of growing up, and can support a child’s mental wellbeing through turbulent times. As Susan Hallam writes in The Power of Music, “musical activities can lead to a sense of accomplishment, enhanced determination, and persistence and of children being better able to cope with anger and express their emotions more effectively.”

Music education can also help kids connect to something more. In the recent MusiCounts Learn Town Hall: The Back to School Conversation, MusiCounts gathered educators, experts, and artists for a candid discussion about why music education is essential for young people as they head back to school in another unpredictable year. According to musician Taes Leavitt (aka Splash of Splash’n Boots), music can be a tool for coping with big feelings by “sparking that little bit of excitement, that life magic feeling, and I think music has the ability to do that.”

So the question may not be whether we can afford to invest in music education; rather, can we afford not to? Chronic underfunding has left school music departments with decrepit instrument inventories - if they are lucky enough to have any instruments at all - and curricula are often out of date or no longer serve the needs of student populations. Add to this the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s a recipe for disaster: Canadian kids need the support of music education, and together we can help ensure it is sustainable, inclusive, and accessible for all.

Music is what makes us human.

-Chris Small

At the MusiCounts Learn Town Hall: The Back to School Conversation, Dr. Bina John shared a quote from philosopher Chris Small: “music is what makes us human.” She elaborated, “the reason I do music is to affirm our humanity with each other, and within that humanity, to respect the diversity within our humanity. I think music is one of the greatest vehicles to do that respectfully and honourably.” Preserving music education by investing in - and advocating for - sustainable music education in schools and communities can provide young people with much-needed access to the power of music.

Join the chorus of Music Education Champions

Join MusiCounts as we work to sustain music education in Canada. Here are some ways you can get involved: