Thanks to network TV, everyone knows these guys. I don’t watch Glee, but I sure as hell know about it, and I’m generally surrounded by ‘GleeKs’. It follows a high school glee club in lavish show choir performances of top 40 hits all while following the quintessential high school coming of age stories of building relationships, dealing with life and world issues, and more.
But, this is definitely a fantasy show in more ways than one. In fact, there are hundreds of schools all over the US who don’t even have a music or performing arts program, and even more who are having the funding for their existing programs slashed to go toward other extracurriculars, more focus on standardized testing, or funding just disappearing all together.
I don’t know if my attention would have been drawn to this issue in any meaningful way if it weren’t for trying to fulfill my month of “30 Ways in 30 Days” on TakePart.com, but I’m so glad that it was. Music was the gateway to the arts for me as a kid. It started off with playing Hot Crossed Buns on the recorder and trying out for the school choir and blossomed into a flutist in the middle school honors band. In high school my love of performance morphed into theater arts and finally translated into the more private arts of creative writing and graphic design in college. I would have never ended up where I did if it weren’t for someone putting that recorder in my hand, if it weren’t for that 1 hour of my school day dedicated to music, if it weren’t for some higher-up in my school district deciding that music was important for kids.
Well, thanks to DonorsChoose.org, school programs, including music programs, can break from the shackles of school district budgeting and donors are paired directly with teachers all over the country to keep their important school projects and programs alive.
Today, a school somewhere here in the United States got $50 from me to help fund some new supplies for their music and performing arts program. It’s not a tremendous donation, but it’s something. In the interest of remaining anonymous I won’t give so many details, but his particular school is in a high poverty area and most of the students are considered ‘at risk’ youth. Music is an opportunity for them to build confidence, build community, and get exposure to the arts that they may not get anywhere else. But, due to lack of funding they can’t reach their full potential with broken equipment, or not enough equipment for the number of students enrolled.
The arts are so incredibly valuable, it would be an honest tragedy if it were lost to any child, no matter their background, income level, town size, school budget or anything else. I encourage you to check out DonorsChoose.org to see if there is anything that piques your interest. Even a $5 or $10 donation is huge for someone who is starting from 0.
…and as a little perk, if you donate $50 you get thank you notes from the kids. That’s not why I did it, but it’s certainly a heart-warming extra.
Question of the day: How did the arts impact you as a kid in school?