The Therapy Journals of the Fat-Headed Klingon Woman

One woman's journey to becoming Her True Self

Arts or Sports- Schools Shouldn’t Have To Choose! May 13, 2010

Hello all.  I want to talk tonight about music.  Well, mostly music, but also art and other unappreciated areas that are constantly getting cut from school budgets.


First of all, I went to Daughter J.’s vocal music concert tonight.  The entire choir program of Lone Grove Schools, from 6th through 12th grade, performed several of the songs they had used for contests and festivals throughout this year.  They were amazing.  Even in the middle school grades, there were students with outstanding voices, incredible presence in front of an audience, and poise beyond their years.  And toward the end of the program, the choir director, Mr. Monteith, had to say goodbye to his assistant and middle school choir director, Mrs. Gauthier, because she was one of several faculty members laid off because of budget shortfalls.


The final song of the evening was a song called My God Is A Rock.  (See a video of this song performed by a different choir here.)It was a challenging piece vocally, mesmerizing to listen to, and perhaps one of the more stirring songs I’ve ever heard at one of these choir concerts, and I’ve been to several.  As they concluded, the entire audience was on its feet immediately, and I was in tears.  I felt that if only Congresses and Legislatures could hear that group perform that song as well as they did tonight, they’d never cut music programs.


To use an ironic metaphor, I realize that my opinion on this subject is just a lone voice in a much larger chorus.  Many others have argued the point I am arguing, probably more forcefully and eloquently.  But at some point the chorus has just got to be heard.  I don’t have the time, patience, or research skills to go find all the studies and facts and data that prove music and other arts programs are not just avenues for talented students to show off.  They are opportunities for all students to prove that they are dedicated, hard working, capable individuals; individuals who can work and practice together as a unit and create something beautiful and touching.  And yes, that includes students who may not excel in the classroom, students who will never feel at home sitting at a desk writing a paper or solving math problems, but who, with musical accompaniment, on a stage, in front of a crowd, can stand out and shine.


The lousiest, sorriest, most unfair thing is that few if any schools would ever choose to cut one of their sports programs to save a fine arts program.  Few coaches and trainers are getting RIFed in the budget crisis, but music and art teachers are getting their pink slips in huge numbers, despite the fact that arts programs are vastly cheaper to maintain!! (For those outside the teaching field, getting RIFed means getting laid off due to Reduction In Force policies when schools have to cut their budgets.)


I fully acknowledge that sports are good for kids in theory.  They teach the value of hard work, teamwork, leadership, sportsmanship, fair play and any number of other excellent values.  But in the real world, the students who benefit the most from sports programs in schools are the ones with talent, the ones who always get to play.  They are the ones who get the accolades, the write-ups in the hometown newspaper, the attention, the scholarships.  On the other hand, when a choir wins a state contest, it is as a unit.  The work that goes into winning that superior rating benefits all members equally.  In a really good choral group, all the unique voices blend smoothly into one, and all the members share equally in the glory of the group’s achievement.  Again, I know sports teams are similar, but there are always MVPs who get singled out for the credit.  The wonderful thing about choirs is that a greater number of students who are average singers can join together to make an above-average choir.  In general, it takes two or three above-average players to make an average football team.


So nobody ever said life was fair.  So everybody has to have priorities, schools have to have priorities.  Why not choose to save the programs that will provide the most benefit to the most students?  Why not choose to support programs like music and art, that allow students to become more well-rounded and better prepared for life?


And the flip side of this whole argument is that sometimes a star emerges from a music program and takes the world by storm.  Sometimes individuals do manage to achieve above and beyond the group as a whole.  I caught a video on YouTube a couple of nights ago that absolutely amazed me.  It was a young man, a 6th grader, performing in his school’s arts festival.  He was playing piano and singing his own version of a popular song called ‘Paparazzi’ by an artist named Lady GaGa.  His incredible video went from 0 to over 9 MILLION views in a couple of weeks.  He will likely become a star very soon.  This could not happen if his talent were only on the football field or the baseball field or the hockey rink or the golf course.  Music gave him a chance to stand out from the crowd in a way that would not be possible in the world of sports for this small, skinny boy.


Music and art are the two things that make my two daughters light up inside.  They both love to sing, and one of them is a gifted artist.  What an unneccesary tragedy it would be if they were to be denied the chance to learn and grow in the mediums they love because schools chose to let go of the music or art teacher instead of one of the 3 or 4 football coaches or trainers.


I encourage everyone who reads this to find your own way to do two things:  One- support the arts in your school and community.  And two- make your legislators aware that the arts are high on your priority list, and that because arts and sports are similarly beneficial to students, those legislators need to figure out some way to end the budget problems that schools face so that they don’t have to choose.


Until next time,



5 Responses to “Arts or Sports- Schools Shouldn’t Have To Choose!”

  1. Scott Miller Says:

    When I was a kid playing T-Ball, I hit 4 home runs in one game. This was in front of my family, my visiting uncle, aunt, and cousins visiting from Colorado.. Talk about an awesome day! But I wasn’t playing for my elementary school, I was playing on a team through the YMCA. I played soccer through the Y, we were league champs one year. My nephews-in-law in Utah are extremely active in baseball, and they are very good, but it’s through a private organization. There is money in sports, that’s why there are organizations that provide that service. There are even church organizations that host teams and leagues for free.

    I’m not saying that schools should cut out sports all together, but there is far more educational value in the Arts than in sports. You also get more bang for your buck. Very few kids will ever play on the football or baseball field for their school, even if they are on the team. Everyone can draw a picture in art, or learn to sing in a choir. I learned more a lot more in those programs than just how to draw and sing.

    • LenaDeeAnne Says:

      Hey Scott- Thanks! You just reminded me of a side of the issue I hadn’t even considered- that more and more kids are getting their sports experiences outside of school anyway! And why? Because school sports are often too exclusive- not everyone gets to play even if they make the team.

  2. Traci King Says:

    Okay, this has to be the BEST entry yet!!!!! I totally agree with you and am working to get a group of parents willing to team up with me to make a plea for change……I’ll be calling you!

    I was supposed to get up last night at the concert and speak about Arts in the schools, but since the concert went late, I was unable to.

    It’s good to know I’m not the only parent who feels our School systems are cutting the wrong programs!

    Way to go DeeAnne!!!!! You’re AWESOME!

  3. […] Maybe read about The Dictators. … Read This, because it’s good. … Read my brief foray into activism, about the dilemma schools face, choosing between arts and sports. … Read some of my […]

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