Host Joel Gagne speaks with Nick Jaworski, former music teacher and current podcaster, about the value of music education in schools. The two discuss the benefit of both music education and the arts in schools as well as the right and wrong ways to make the case for music and arts in schools.

As a former music teacher, Nick is passionate about keeping both music and art education in schools. Joel and Nick discuss the value of music education in creating well-rounded students.

“If nothing else, it’s helpful to have a class where students can come to, and they get to be creative and to explore,” Nick says. “It provides an opportunity for them to feel heard and listened to.”

He says that he’s seen students get excited about their music and arts classes, and for many students it’s given them a reason to come to school.

Joel says that for some students, music and arts is a lot like sports where it gives some students the drive to do well in other subjects.

Nick says that kids need space in their day where they get to use different parts of their brain.

“It becomes a place where they get to stretch and grow in different ways,” Nick says.

Nick talks about his experiences as a public school music teacher and dives into his time teaching on the southside of Chicago. He says that music classes can be a great way for parents to see how creative their students can be.

Joel asks how Nick feels the future looks for music education in public schools.

Nick says that there’s been a really heavy push to change STEM to STEAM, but some schools just don’t have the same opportunities for music and arts education. The financial investment can be a big hurdle for participation in music education.

He says that there’s a fight within music education regarding what is “legitimate” and what is not. He thinks a key to more people understanding the value of music education will be to allow students to learn about the contemporary music they’re already enjoying outside of school.

Joel asks Nick what he would do with a music education program if money were no object.

Nick says his ideal school would have a dedicated music teacher for each school rather than a teacher that travels among schools. He says that a lot of elementary music teachers do a great job already, but he would love to teach more contemporary music to students at an earlier age. He would also love younger students to learn percussion as well. Ideally, he would love to teach students how to upload their music to iTunes and YouTube and to eventually monetize their music.

Nick mentions a series stick figure drawings he drew that discuss music education advocacy and where advocates go wrong.

When asked which instrument children should start learning, he says that while piano is fantastic, percussion is an easy spot to start without the same financial barriers as piano.

Joel asks what big takeaway Nick would give to our listeners. He says that his mom’s lesson of “The teacher is the curriculum” is his big lesson to share. Having a loving, caring adult in front of students in the classroom has a giant positive effect on students.

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