Debating the value of music lessons

Posted on: September 23, 2013

In the New Republic last week, there has been a lively debate on the topic of the approach parents should take toward music lessons for their children. On Monday (9/16), Mark Oppenheimer, the parent of a second-grader whose extracurricular activities include ballet and violin lessons, writes an article titled “Stop Forcing Your Kids to Learn a Musical Instrument,” stating, “Some parents … make claims for the utility of music and dance lessons that are, I think, unfounded and overblown. If we look closely at why we encourage our children to study music and dance, and what the real benefits are, we will see that our children are taking the wrong lessons, and for the wrong reasons.” On Thursday (9/19), Paul Berman responds, “The study of classical music is … a spiritual enterprise. I do not mean to say that classical music is better than other kinds of music…. But I do think that classical music is, in some respect, bigger than other kinds of music.… You ask: is there anything special in the musical satisfactions that I am describing? Aren’t there grandeurs to be found in basketball, too, and in golf? Or in rock anthems performed at stadiums? I respond: Sure, OK, if you are into it. The centuries of sustained classical musical meditation are cumulative, though.”

Posted September 23, 2013