A Nation Sings Out

Sharing a national identity, Americans value the same concerns. A primary issue we have not yet addressed is that after school-programs are essential building blocks for America’s at-risk youth; they offer an excellent alternative to alcohol, drugs, and gangs. At-risk youth can be kept off the streets and become more productive with the aid of after-school programs. Music “helps them develop discipline, persistence, self-esteem and accountability, which will lead them to success in school and in life”(Camilleri 210). These disciplines were learned only through the music programs because the programs were able to reach the children of gang-prone areas. The youth in those communities are not viewed as liabilities but as assits waiting to be developed, and become role models for the community and their families. If we can enlighten at-risk youth about music, they will be able to utilize the skills attained for the rest of their lives. These skills include becoming more disciplined, leadership skills, and how they treat others.

The skills that develop as youth progress through music programs can enable them to succeed within the classroom. For this reason “making the arts a core requirement of education is one way to help close the achievement gap between minority and white students and to raise standardized test scores” (Galante 22). When these programs are taken out of American schools, students may have the urge to join a less productive group, oftentimes a gang. As Magaret Martin stated, "Nothing is more powerful for these at-risk youth than music, for the money we are spending" (Martin). We will not be growing as a productive community if we exclude the arts from the core curriculum, and rather, harming a complete education of our youth. We must take action to amend the separation caused by the lack of arts in American schools. Due to the lack of arts in core curriculum for students they do not have a place to gather and feel saved.


Funding cuts and instrumental music program closures are producing negative effects on America’s youth. According to the Children’s Defense Fund, “a high school student drops out every eleven seconds” (CDF). At-risk youth use these programs to continue with everyday life and use them as an alternative to gangs. Schools across the nation are taking out their art and music programs altogether. It is believed by Galante that "If we don't offer these activities (music) that kids care about so much, they might not go to school at all"(Galante 22). This provides a first-hand account of how important these programs are to forsaken children. “A community member from Santa Cruz, who originally came from Africa, has begun to teach an African drumming course” (Bains and Mesa-Bains 184). There are countless statements from arts teachers across the country that pour their hearts into assuring that America’s youth has the chance to be exposed to music and the arts. Unfortunately there is a continual battle with the government to keep art and music programs in schools.

After-school music programs are gradually on the rise in this nation and studies have shown they should continue to expand their coverage. In recent years, programs have been sprouting up throughout America. Circumstances for the American youth can only improve with continuous education through music.

Justin Jennings

Links to Other Subsections
The History of Preventing Gang Involvement
Building a Bolder Boulder
Testimonies and Stories

Works Cited:

"Music Therapy With Inner City, At-Risk Children: From the Literal to the Symbolic." Creative Arts Therapies Manual: a Guide to the History, Theoretical Approaches, Assessment, and Work with Special Populations of Art, Play, Dance, Music, Drama, and Poetry Therapies. Ed. Stephanie L. Brooke. By Vanessa A. Camilleri. Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas, 2006. 205-12. Print.

Block, Debbie Galante. "Massachusetts Teacher Makes Case for Music." Teaching Music 16.1 (2008): 22. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 14 Nov. 2010.

Bains, Richard, and Amalia Mesa-Bains. "A Reciprocal University: A Model For Arts, Justice, and Community." Social Justice 29.4 (2002): 182+. HW Wilson. Web. 28 Nov. 2010.

"The State of America's Children® 2010 Report." Children's Defense Fund (CDF) : Health Care Coverage for All of America's Children, Ending Child Poverty, Child Advocacy Programs. 28 May 2010. Web. 01 Dec. 2010.

"Speaking with Margaret Martin." Telephone interview. 02 Dec. 2010.

"The Harmony Project/Photo Galleries." The Harmony Project. Web. 2 Dec 2010. <http://harmony-project.org/pages/about-galleries.php>.