press release

Texaco Press Release - Citing Music's Multiple Benefits to a Child's Development, Summit Recommends

Budget Cuts Result In Musician and Music Teacher Shortages, Lost Learning Opportunities


WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., July 25 - A Texaco Foundation-supported Early Childhood Music Summit, the kick-off event for "Start the Music," an initiative to bring music education to every child in the U.S., met for three days at the US Department of Education in Washington, DC to discuss ways to maximize music's contributions to learning.

The "Start the Music" initiative is supported by a Texaco Foundation grant to the National Association for Music Education (MENC), in collaboration with the Department of Education Office of Education Research and Improvement, and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

Participants included experts in early childhood education, music educators, and researchers, who endorsed the importance of music as part of a basic education for every child and believe that age-appropriate music education contributes to overall child development.

"When children have a chance to experience music education at an early age, they have another tool with which to explore the world," said Anne Dowling, President of the Texaco Foundation. "Texaco believes that the early development of musical knowledge and skills contributes to children's thinking ability, academic achievement, and social and emotional growth."

Because children's music education programs have disappeared due to budget cutbacks, musical audiences are graying, professional musicians are in dwindling supply, and the pool of music teachers is evaporating, according to summit participants. At the same time, some research indicates that music taught well at the earliest ages, from day-care and preschool through age eight, expands a child's ability to achieve.

Among the key conclusions and recommendations reached during the summit:

  • Teachers need to know how to infuse music in the early childhood curriculum - it is a powerful learning tool;
  • To maximize the benefits good music education provides, schools need to develop programs based on "best practices" in early childhood music education that embrace age-appropriate methods;
  • Music is too important to be left to popular culture and media, though we do need better media role models;
  • Music offers a powerful medium through which to learn about and reinforce cultural heritage and traditions;
  • In concentrating on music for the sake of performance, schools sometimes overlook musics universal contributions to all childrens education;
  • Elementary music education programs usually begin at age five or six, whereas great benefits can be derived from earlier exposure;
  • Child-care providers and preschool teachers can be trained to use age-appropriate music in their classrooms so they are comfortable going beyond "The Itsy Bitsy Spider";
  • Just as science education went through a cycle of neglect and restoration, music education needs to enter a period of renewal and rededication;
  • Advocates of early music education need to refine their message to communicate to the public and education leaders that music is more than an extracurricular frill;
  • Sound music education practices need to be woven into popular culture: installing sound sculptures at theme parks and drum stations in playgrounds; working with libraries, parks, and recreation programs; partnering with professional organizations, parent groups, and the music merchandise industry;

Texaco and the Texaco Foundation have a history of commitment to the arts and music, through support of the Metropolitan Opera and through "Early Notes: the Sound of Children Learning," the Foundation's signature music education giving program. Early Notes programs foster the development of musical knowledge and skills and explore any connection between music and cognitive skills, especially in science and math.

NOTE TO EDITORS: A list of Summit participants and affiliations is attached.

"Start the Music"
Early Childhood Education Summit

Norma Abdul-Rahim
Sligo Creek Elementary
Silver Spring, MD
Marica Humpal
Cuyahoga County Board of Mental
Retardation & Developmental Disabilities
Cleveland, OH
Artie Almeida
Bear Lake Elementary
Altamonte Springs, FL
Susan Kenney
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT
Barbara Andress, Professor Emeritus
Arizona State University
Prescott, AZ
Linda Page Neelly, Consultant
Rochester, NY
Liz Armistead
Settlement Music School
Philadelphia, PA
Jan Wolf
Kent State University Child Development Center
Fairlawn, OH
Joyce Culwell
Indian Ridge Elementary
Aurora, CO
Robert Bartman, Commissioner of
Missouri Department of Education
Jefferson City, MO
Carol Brunson Day, Executive Director
Council on Early Childhood Professional
Washington, DC
Donna Brink Fox
Eastman School of Music
Rochester, NY
Jerri Daniel, Assistant Professor
University of Pittsburgh, School of Music
Pittsburgh, PA
Sarah Greene, Chief Executive Officer
National Head Start Association
Washington, DC
Yasmina Vinci, Executive Director
Washington, DC
Mike Blakeslee
MENC: The National Association for Music Education
Reston, VA
Mary Luehrsen
Texaco Foundation
White Plains, NY
Donna Brink Fox
Eastman School of Music
Rochester, NY
John J. Mahlmann
MENC: The National Association for Music Education
Reston, VA
Marilou Hyson
National Association for the Education of
Young Children
Washington, DC
Rachel Malone
MENC: The National Association for Music Education
Reston, VA
Naomi Karp
National Institute on Early Childhood
Development & Education
U.S. Department of Education
Washington, DC

Updated: July 2000