The Economic Impact of Music Education Programs

Marilyn Rhames laments how budget cuts have eliminated many school-based music education programs from all but the most wealthy public and private schools.


Inspired by the desire of her eight year old daughter to take violin lessons, Ms. Rhames visited the workshop of Gary Garavaglia, winner of the prestigious “Silver in Tone” award for violin quality, to learn more about string instruments and how they are made from blocks of maple, oak, spruce, and ebony.


She learned that it takes three and a half years at a special school to become a luthier, or string-instrument maker, and it takes over 250 hours to make a violin.


The decline in school-based music programs, however, has lessened the demand for music instruments and she wondered about the future of the luthiers.


She writes, “Educators know that playing an instrument—especially a stringed instrument like the violin—improves brain function in children,” but the need to provide students with opportunities in music is “…often lost on policymakers who lately only seem laser-focused on academic college-readiness and streamlining school budgets.”


So, she suggests that restoring school-based music education programs would not only better prepare students for higher education and careers, but would also help the national economy, by increasing the demand for music instruments and the number of skilled musicians to play them.


See “For the Love of Music, Teach Violin in Schools! by Marilyn Rhames, Charting My Own Course Blog, Education Week, October 1, 2014 at


The FYI Arts updates are written by Joan Platz, Research and Knowledge Director for the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education.  The purpose of FYI Arts is to keep arts education advocates informed about issues dealing with the arts, education, policy, research, and opportunities.  The distribution of this information is made possible through the generous support of the Ohio Music Education Association (, Ohio Art Education Association (, Ohio Educational Theatre Association (; OhioDance (, and the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education (


About OAAE

Since our founding in 1974, by Dr. Dick Shoup and Jerry Tollifson, our mission has always been to ensure the arts are an integral part of the education of every Ohioan. Working at the local, state, and federal levels through the efforts of a highly qualified and elected Board of Directors, our members, and a professional staff we have four primary areas of focus: building collaborations, professional development, advocacy, and capacity building. The OAAE is funded in part for its day-to-day operation by the Ohio Arts Council. This support makes it possible for the OAAE to operate its office in Columbus and to work statewide to ensure the arts are an integral part of the education of every Ohioan. Support for arts education projects comes from the Ohio Arts Council, Ohio Music Education Association, Ohio Art Education Association, Ohio Educational Theatre Association, VSA Ohio, and OhioDance. The Community Arts Education programs of Central Ohio are financially assisted by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners and the Greater Columbus Arts Council. We gratefully acknowledge and appreciate the financial support received from each of these outstanding agencies and organizations.
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