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Public Statements

Recognizing Benefits and Importance of School-Based Music Education

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. COOPER. Mr. Speaker, I do have the privilege of representing Nashville, Tennessee, and outlying communities in the United States Congress, and we commonly go by the name Music City, U.S.A. We are very proud of that because we may have more creative individuals in our area than perhaps any other community of the world. Some say that everyone who lives there is either a musician or a songwriter, and some just haven't cut their demos yet.

We are very proud of that musical tradition and heritage, and we believe music should be included in the curriculum in our public schools. Music education is vitally important, not only for the reasons that my two colleagues have given, and I would also like to thank the original cosponsor of this legislation, the gentleman from California (Mr. Cunningham) for his strong support.

Music education I think is even more important than the reasons that have been given so far. When our Founders started talking about the values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, surely in the pursuit of happiness, they were talking about music. Music is literally the joy of life, the soundtrack of our lives. It accompanies our most important and most intimate moments. Whether it is a tune or a lyric that you carry in your heart forever, that is an important part of being fully human. It is also an important part of our educational system. A shocking number of our young people, some 30 million or more, are being deprived of this music education. They are being deprived of a well-rounded education.

Many Americans have seen the movie called "Mr. Holland's Opus" in which Richard Dreyfuss played a high school music teacher who did a superb job over decades teaching young people how to play an instrument in a band, how to appreciate music, and develop their minds and hearts to the fullest extent. Of course in that movie, Mr. Holland's job was terminated because the local school board did not think music was important. They considered it a luxury rather than a necessity.

But I think all thinking Americans realize music is important, it is not a luxury, it is a necessity, and it is very important for our young people to learn those skills. The music historian Jules Combarieu said, "Music is the art of thinking with sounds." I hope that all of our young people will be able to learn to think with sounds and learns how to play a musical instrument.

The International Music Products Association deserves a lot of credit for helping focus our attention during this month on the needs of our students who need the ability to learn a musical instrument.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the many Members of this House who strongly support this resolution. I would like to thank the members of this committee who brought forward this measure with unusual speed using an unconventional mechanism, and we appreciate the recognition of music as a key part of our public education.

However, it is very important that we do not just pay lip service to this goal because there is no funding in this bill. This is a concurrent resolution. This just encourages, this just asks the many school districts around the country to include music as a priority. Let us make it real. Let us make sure that our public schools do have music education in the curriculum and that all of our children around this great Nation have the chance to learn the sound of music.


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