A Letter From the Editors

District’s Decision to Change Elementary School Music Program Closes the Door to Artistic Exploration

You may forget the name of an 18th century composer, but you will never forget the joy of playing Hot Cross Buns on your fourth grade instrument of choice. 

The Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District’s decision to cut down the fourth grade music program will close the door to creative opportunities for elementary students. 

Learning a musical instrument is parallel to learning a new language. A fourth grader never knows if this instrument is their passion in dormancy, waiting to be discovered by yearlong participation in music. 

The only way for students to develop this passion is through prolonged exposure to a hands-on music program.

Young minds are more pliable, so picking up an instrument during fourth grade is much easier than beginning music in middle school. Students who miss out on music at a young age have a hard time sticking with it at a later age because by middle school, the discrepancy between proficiency levels is already prominent, decreasing motivation for those who are just beginning. 

Furthermore, elementary students have much more free time to invest in learning a new talent compared to middle school students. They also have more time to find what works best for them – their natural style and method of thinking and learning. 

PVPUSD greatly values the significance of an interdisciplinary and diverse curriculum, which is why it provides a wide range of classes available to students. 

The music program is such a vital part of elementary school education, and while it’s true that not everyone continues to pursue music, people who learn this art at an early age develop secondary skills that are applicable to personal and academic goals. 

Such skills include improved hand-eye coordination and memory, which are important for children to develop. 

Through hours and hours of independent practicing, musicians also refine important qualities like discipline and a greater appreciation of the arts.

Cutting down the fourth grade music program may lead to the reduction of the fifth grade program when PVPUSD needs funding for other sectors. Districts such as San Fransisco’s Mount Diablo Unified School District have already modeled this, others even going as far as to cut music programs from middle school as well.

The number of students entering the middle school music departments is already decreasing, which directly translates to even fewer who choose to continue music in high school. 

With lower enrollment rates comes less funding as fewer parents and beneficiaries donate to the arts, and the district unintentionally devalues the importance of an education in music.

The district takes pride in its exceptional music department. But with declining numbers of music students due to the lack of funding and the reduction of fourth grade music, PVPUSD will no longer be able to call on string quartets or jazz combos to enhance its private events and students with a potential affinity for music will also feel the repercussions.