And so went the chant at the recent anti-crime march on City Hall in New Orleans. There were several moments during speeches when the crowd reacted collectively. A chant of “shame, shame” briefly took hold when a speaker was chastising city leadership. But, after hearing from impassioned brass band musicians, the crowd seized upon “music in the schools.” It became the phrase that carried on the longest and loudest. And for good reason.
The crowd’s collective common sense expressed what seems to be a growing awareness of the need for music in the schools. Every intellectual, every fan of music, every insightful critic of education, stands firmly for music and arts education. Despite this reality; and, despite years of studies, countless meetings and the efforts of tens of thousands of dedicated arts activists, music still has not acheived its rightful place in education.
In Louisiana, music is ingrained in the fabric of life more deeply than any other state. Yet there is no educational leadership ensuring the legacy continues. This past week, however, Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu boldly took a stand in support of music in every school.
Speaking at his poorly promoted third Cultural Economy Summit (I challenge you to find the link on the CRT website http://www.crt.state.la.us) Landrieu proclaimed that he was going to work to bring a music teacher to every school. He becomes the highest ranking Louisiana official to make such a bold declaration. Hopefully, unlike his predecessor (and current governor) Kathleen Blanco, who showed timid support for music in the schools as lt. governor and zero support for music as governor, Landrieu might actually do something. At least he’s talking about it, which is more than anyone else in state government is doing.