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The Need to Introduce Music Education in our Schools: Why is it Underfunded?

Most of the Schools don't Include Music Programs due to Budgetary Pressure

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music education
Music programs for schools are essential. Pixabay
  • In the US the music programs for schools are facing budget cuts and is heavily underfunded at other places
  • In India, according to a research paper, it was observed that music education is not available in every school
  • The scenario is far better in countries like Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark that has well-developed and funded music school programs

June 23, 2017: Is ‘Music’ a universal language? Yes, it is! But, the current scenario will stir thoughts and make you think otherwise. Music is cherished worldwide but why people are not motivated enough to introduce it in schools?

Music has been with us for centuries and it is one of the activities that we associate with emotions and passion. We all have some music on our phones which we listen to while driving to work, or at the gym or at times while we are working. It is a composition of many vibrations that refreshes the mind. Music improves cultural integration and music is also used as a motivating factor to people.

Music Education is what is required to make the new generations take music up as a career but sadly, the present scenario of music education is not at its best. In the US, the music programs for schools are facing budget cuts and is heavily underfunded at other places. Countries like England and Australia also face the similar problem of funding of music in schools.

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India too is facing problems in managing music programs at school levels. According to a research, it was observed that music education is not available in every school, it is not for every student, the teaching quality is not satisfactory, no music rooms. Over the years, this has cornered music and now children who are willing to learn, go to private tutors. Unfortunately, this becomes a burden for some due to the financial crisis- it costs high because it is not subsidized by the government.

Therefore, students feel demotivated enough to choose music as a career option. Also, students who are willing enough to learn music have opted for online music schools but ICT (Information and Communications Technology) but it is not well structured as well.

However, the scenario is far better in countries like Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark that has well-developed and funded music school programs and the students believe their schools take extra measures to develop music programs for schools.

But the scenario in the overall world is precarious because music education is considered not important in the education system though music has a vast scope in the practical world.  One can choose careers in Production, Music direction, Instrument specialists, Music in Tv and Radio, music in journalism, music education jobs and many other things.

One story that recently surfaced was the usage of music as a trauma therapy for the children in Syria. Project Lift works for the benefit of the Syrian children to counter their trauma through creative arts therapy which includes music therapy as one of the measures.

Listening to music has an effect on not just human beings, but also on their surroundings. Even dogs react to music. In 1994, there was an experiment done by a Japanese researcher Masaru Emoto, who believed that water reacts to human consciousness in which he observed the formation of ice crystals in water when different kinds of music vibrations hit them.

The results found to have a different composition of formation of crystals in each ice crystal. This means music can influence water and also humans. An average human body consists of 6o percent water and therefore needless o say that music can have a positive impact on the mind of human beings and therefore it is essential to introduce it to children from school levels itself.

– by Sumit Balodi of NewsGram. Twitter: @sumit_balodi

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Chainsmokers on How they dealt with the fame that came after the release of their hit song “Closer”?

The Chainsmokers admire Indian music and say that it was cool to work with globally popular Indian star Priyanka Chopra

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Chainsmokers duo are behind the hit single
Chainsmokers duo are behind the hit single "Closer". IANS
  • It is important to use the popularity to send out a positive message
  • India is holding onto its cultural music
  • A lot of musicians in the US want to use their music for political activism

New Delhi, September 10, 2017: They felt “strange” with the fame that came with the popularity of their single “Closer”, and feel they still have a lot to prove.

American DJs and production duo The Chainsmokers say they want to push themselves and experiment. And they want to spread “positivity with their music without any propaganda.”

In a joint email interview to IANS, The Chainsmokers duo Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall reflected upon their journey in the music world and how they are dealing with the fame. They mentioned it is important to use the popularity to send out a positive message amid all the “craziness happening in the world”.

“That song (‘Closer’) gave us a lot of acclaim in a good way. (In) a lot of cases for DJs, people know the music but don’t know what they look like. And ‘Closer’ became so big. We made a couple of TV appearances and we felt famous for the first time, it kind of felt strange,” the duo said in their joint reply.

The duo, who wrapped up their two-city India tour on Friday, also appreciated how India is holding onto its “cultural music”.

The Grammy Award-winning artists headlined the Indian leg of Road to ULTRA, an independent festival brand, brought to India by ULTRA Worldwide and Percept Live. The fest made its foray into the country with Road To ULTRA show in Mumbai and Greater Noida.

The New York based artists exploded onto the music scene with viral hit “#SELFIE” in 2014. They followed it up with hits like “Roses” and “Don’t let me down”, for which they won a Grammy. The success of “Closer”, featuring Halsey, changed the whole game for them.

“We are having the best time and just enjoying every second of the ride but there is still so much more we want to accomplish and we push ourselves to experiment so we are always thinking about what’s next,” they said.

The duo continued the successful ride as they released “Paris” and a single in collaboration with Coldplay titled “Something just like this”.

A lot of musicians in the US want to use their music for political activism.

Ask The Chainsmokers if they also want to use their beats and sounds for a bigger cause, and they said: “It is important to use the resources you have and say the things you believe in, whatever those positive things may be.”

“There is a lot of craziness happening in the world right now and if you have a lot of fans looking up to you, need to create some awareness and spread positivity without a propaganda.”

Talking about their India visit, the duo said: “This is our fourth visit, to be honest…We just weren’t that famous then. We played a fun free festival in Pune. We also went to an orphanage there and met some school kids. Being foodies, we had a lot of naans and tikkas.”

The Chainsmokers admire Indian music and say that it was cool to work with globally popular Indian star Priyanka Chopra. They worked with the Bollywood actress back in 2012 for the single “Erase”.

“It’s amazing how there are only a few countries in the world that support cultural music and India is one of them apart from Brazil and Canada. It is great because there is a strong cultural identity. We have worked with Priyanka Chopra who was pretty cool,” said the “All we know” hitmakers.

Any plans to collaborate with any other Indian actor or musician?

“We were supposed to meet Shah Rukh Khan (after the Mumbai gig) but everything got messed up. He seems (to be) pretty cool and (we) wouldn’t mind hanging out with him sometime,” they said.

But that has to wait now.

“Right now, our schedule is very pretty crazy and we still feel we are relatively new music artists and we have to prove a lot. But there will come a point when we want to put our thing aside and want to work (with) all kinds of artists,” they said. (IANS)

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Syria Turns the School Playgrounds into Vegetable Gardens to Feed Hungry Children

The ongoing crisis in Syria is having a devastating effect on the health and nutrition of an entire generation of children

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A boy sells vegetables and fruits along a street in the Damascus suburb of Qudsaya, Syria
A boy sells vegetables and fruits along a street in the Damascus suburb of Qudsaya, Syria. VOA
  • Young children are often the most vulnerable to malnutrition in a crisis
  • Good nutrition is a child’s first defense against common diseases

School playgrounds across Syria are being transformed into vegetable gardens where children whose diets have been devastated by six years of war can learn to grow and then eat — aubergines, lettuces, peppers, cabbages, and cucumbers.

Traditional Syrian cuisine is typical of the region and rich in vegetables. Its mainstays include hummus, minced lamb cooked with pine nuts and spices, varied salads, stews made with green beans, okra or courgettes and tomatoes, stuffed cabbage leaves and artichoke hearts.

But the six-year war has changed that for much of the population, and many now live mainly on bread or food aid.

According to U.N. figures, unemployment now stands at more than 50 percent, and nearly 70 percent of the population is living in extreme poverty, in what was once a relatively wealthy country.

“The ongoing crisis in Syria is having a devastating effect on the health and nutrition of an entire generation of children,” Adam Yao, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) acting representative in Syria, said on Tuesday, ahead of the start of the school year.FAO is helping some 17 primary schools in both government and opposition-controlled areas to plant up to 500 meter-square fruit and vegetable plots in war-torn areas including Aleppo, Hama, Homs, Idlib and the outskirts of Damascus.

FAO is helping some 17 primary schools in both government and opposition-controlled areas to plant up to 500 meter-square fruit and vegetable plots in war-torn areas including Aleppo, Hama, Homs, Idlib and the outskirts of Damascus.Young children are often the most vulnerable to malnutrition in a crisis, which can have serious and long-lasting effects on their growth and future development.

Young children are often the most vulnerable to malnutrition in a crisis, which can have serious and long-lasting effects on their growth and future development.

“Good nutrition is a child’s first defense against common diseases and important for children to be able to lead an active and healthy life,” Yao added.

The primary schools, which began planting in May, have produced 12 tons of fruit and vegetables. Another 35 schools are expected to start transforming their playgrounds soon in Aleppo and in rural areas around Damascus.

Also Read: Ground Report: How ISIS is ruining lives of people in Syria and Iraq

Rising prices, falling production

The price of food has risen since the start of the war — agriculture production has plummeted, and the country now relies on food imports to make up the shortfall. Transporting food around the country has also become difficult and costly.

About 13.5 million people in Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance. Of those, 7 million are unable to meet their basic food needs.

Some 5 million people receive international food aid, but not everyone in need can be reached, and the World Food Program says it has had to cut a number of calories in its family food baskets because of funding shortages.

“The donors are generous, but we don’t know how long they can continue to be generous and rely on taxpayers’ money,” the FAO’s Yao told Reuters.

Vulnerable families are receiving help from FAO to grow food at home, so they can become less reliant on food aid.

“Food aid is very important, but … we should combine both, in a way that people grow their own food and move away from food aid gradually,” he said.

In a country where more than half the population has been forced to flee their homes, many moving several times, investing in agriculture helps people to stay put for as long as it is safe, Yao added.

“Agriculture has become a hope for [many] because they can grow their own food and survive — even in the besieged areas.” (VOA)

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Ragas for Preschool Children: Combining Classical Music with Fun Exercises

A unique model has been introduced by SPIC MACAY in which can lead to the all-round brain development of children between the age group of 3 to 6 yrs. old

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School Children, teachers, mobile phones
School Children in India. Pixabay
  • There are various benefits of learning classical music at an early age like it improves memory, emotional intelligence, and concentration, suggests a research.
  • The preschool module will have the young children learn classical music through different bodily movements like stomping, marching swaying, jumping or shaking. It will start from basic techniques like learning seven svaras of Indian classical music by teachers.
  • Each raga taught to the students in the module is linked with fun physical exercises or basic yoga techniques like padmasana and will help them memorize sooner. 

August 3, 2017: The left and right side of the brain, both are important for a balanced and rounded education of the child. This is why the Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth (SPIC MACAY) is introducing a new module for preschool Children and caters to the children between three and six years of age to imbibe classical music in them through the use of interactive and fun-filled educational activities like yoga and music.

There are various benefits of learning classical music at an early age like it improves memory, emotional intelligence, and concentration, suggests a research. The effect of learning music on the child’s brain in the formative years can contribute a lot to the development of their brain. It has proven to relieve tension, alleviate boredom and strengthen the child’s core, mentally and emotionally beneficial. Thus, SPIC MACAY is utilizing the power of music in order to educate young children through interactive sessions.

Young Kids learning
Young Kids learning. pixabay

The preschool module will have the young children learn classical music through different bodily movements like stomping, marching swaying, jumping or shaking. It will start from basic techniques like learning seven svaras of Indian classical music by teachers. It will help the students to improve phonetic control and language skills. The students will also be taught different basic forms of yoga with naadyog, a meditation of sounds or mantras. According to a report by The Pioneer, Dr. Kiran Seth (who created this module) said, “This will inspire children from a young age of 3-5 years to become better human beings.”

The schools can introduce the module in whichever way they want. Any school can adapt by following the required procedure. First, they have to register at the SPIC MACAY office offline.  After which that they can choose amongst two options. As per the first option, they can send their music teachers to Aarambh (the beginning) School for five days for training under the supervision of Dr. Seth, to learn the methodology of teaching basic classical ragas and interactive techniques to young students. In addition, the cultural society’s volunteers will regularly visit the schools to oversee the progress. The second option is that they can opt for a visit thrice a week by SPIC MACAY trained volunteers-teachers.

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Children will be taught to play it like a game, putting their right and left leg forward to Sa Re Ga Ma, for the arohan (ascending) and avrohan (descending) notes, which will be done at different speeds. It will be done with the tanpura music in the background. Modules like these are designed to increase their meditative capacity and bring back focus amongst children, which can be lost due to overuse of electronic gadgets.

The module was designed after a five-year long research into child behavior. By mapping the change in their responses, post subjecting them to varied modules. Each raga taught to the students in the module is linked with fun physical exercises or basic yoga techniques like padmasana and will help them memorize sooner.

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The society has a large network of volunteers throughout the country. So, this module can be implemented pan-India. The society also aims at regularly organizing its cultural events with the schools that opt for this module. These events which will have various artists performing will boost children’s interest in music. They are also providing several classical music CDs to schools free of cost.

At their 5th International Convention, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appreciated Dr. Seth for reviving our rich music, culture, and heritage. This move can bring a qualitative change in elementary education.

– prepared by Kritika Dua of NewsGram. Twitter @DKritika08

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