Why do we value music? In an article entitled Vision 2020, edited by C. K. Madsen(2000) and published by the Music Educators Nation Conference, Reimer makes the statement “that to be human is to make meaning and seek meaning. A life full of meaning, including musical meaning, is a life fulfilled in one of its primary needs”. We as human beings often ask ourselves “why were we placed here on earth?” The typical high school student asks that by wanting acceptance by peers, wanting to find his/her niche in the school setting, by wanting to belong to a group. “The best reason to study music is that it gives people a reliable, thorough, and efficient way of becoming expert at creating, communication, and deriving meaning musically in the world of humans (Madsen, 2000).

How do individuals participate in music? Jellison stated that “music teachers across this country every day provide pleasurable, enjoyable creative music experiences for their students. Yet, it appears that many children and adults do not choose to continue many of these music experiences outside of school (Madsen, 2000). As the ultimate goal of music education … is to identify those skills and experiences that are important building blocks on which to structure adult music experiences” (Madsen, 2000).

Perhaps we need to plan more directly for the future musical lives of students. This can start with the renovation of John L. Johnson auditorium. The mission of the Napoleon Area City School ‘District is to “lead, learn and live in the pursuit of excellence.” The ultimate objective of all standards, all music curriculums, and all school personnel is to help all students gain the broad skills and knowledge that will enable them to function effectively as adults and to contribute to society in today’s world and tomorrow’s. Music is defined as a core academic subject in No Child Left Behind. Music has National and State Academic Content Standards, just as any other subject. Without music programs in schools, we risk losing part of our culture for the future. When we examine past cultures, what do we use to judge how civilized they were? Paintings, musical compositions, architecture, tools, language, and clothing are the markers. In other words – ART is what is studied. In fact, we use the fine arts of past cultures to judge how much they knew about our current so-called “core subjects.” Does one think people in.the future are going to look at our standardized test scores to see how well we lived? The answer is “No”. They’re going to study our ability to create ART.

President John F. Kennedy remarks at Amherst College, October 26, 1963, made clear the need for a nation to represent itself not only through its strength but also through its art and as he said, “full recognition of the place of the artist. II Two years later, President Lyndon Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, creating The National Endowment for the Arts. Kennedy also stated in his speech, “I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty, which will protect the beauty of our natural environment, which will preserve the great old American houses and squares and parks of our national past, and which will build handsome and balanced cities for our future … I look forward to an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft. I look forward to an America which will steadily raise the standards of artistic accomplishment and which will steadily enlarge cultural opportunities for all of our citizens. And I look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world not only for its strength but for its civilization as well. And I look forward to a world which will be safe not only for democracy and diversity but also for personal distinction.”

As music and drama teachers within the Napoleon Area Schools District, we fully endorse the renovation and restoration of John L. Johnson auditorium. As a music educators, we see the need for the district and community to not only provide for the numerous extra-curricular sporting activities, but more importantly to provide for the board adopted curriculum-based music education within the district with a performance arena that allows for the culmination of what is taught in the classroom. The first priority of the performance area should be for the arts, music, dance, drama, and not to diminish these disciplines to secondary users of the facility. A gymnatorium does not support the classroom pedagogy. An acoustically renovated auditorium not only supports the classroom pedagogy, but also will aid the student in learning proper etiquette and decorum for an artistic performance. It will also be a reflection upon the Napoleon community in general as President Kennedy declared in his speech, to “enlarge cultural opportunities for all of our citizens”.

Sincerely,

The Music and Drama Educators of Napoleon Area Schools