Cuts to arts mean losing opportunities (Letter to the editor)
In reading the article about teachers of the arts potentially not being hired back for the 2022-23 school year through the Montclair Public School system, I was deeply saddened.
The arts teach children so much, and to lose this type of teaching is detrimental to children and young people.
As an early childhood teacher and adult student of the cello, the richness of the lessons taught to children is beyond compare. For example, just the other day, my 4-year-olds and I were talking about the sound of a bell that had just rung and how long the sound lasted. I explained to them that I was learning a new piece of music, Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, and that I only had so much time to play a certain amount of sounds (or musical notes) in a given period of time; I had them listen to the beats counted out by a metronome.
This instruction is rich in ways that straight academics is not. It takes science and math at a sophisticated level and makes it accessible and concrete; and teaches how something, sound in this case, that most of us can access, is an amazing phenomenon.
In addition, with so many children struggling emotionally and socially, the arts give children a way to express themselves in a therapeutic way without “therapy” being the operative objective. It gives children the chance to explore their ideas, feelings, and thoughts in a creative, out of the box way, and hopefully feel proud of what they have done; as well as be recognized for the risk and the vulnerability they have shared with those around them.
And, finally, when you think about the greatest artists, such as a Michelangelo and/or Mstislav Rostropovich, the Russian cellist virtuoso, they bring to the world, to people as individuals and collectively, a sense of the magnificence of life, its potential and beauty. If we cut the arts, children won’t necessarily have the same access to such amazing artists and artistry, and potentially will lose an opportunity to create, to develop their own souls in a way that we all can benefit from and in a way that makes us remember how precious and magical life is.
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