Tell Superintendent Palmer: Save The Music In Westport Public Schools!

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The musicians in this video are not professionals. They are aged 11 to 17. My 11 year old daughter is one of them. She has played at noted music halls including the Boston Symphony Hall and Bridgeport's Klein Auditorium. Her repertoire of complex pieces include Dvorak, Beethoven, Mozart, Bach and Tchaikovsky. 

My daughter, like almost every child in this video, first picked up her instrument just two years ago as part of her school's string music program for all 4th graders. Here in Westport, my daughter's story is not an unusual one. The nationally recognized music program at Westport Public Schools has brought the love of music and all its associated benefits to thousands of children throughout the years.

Now, the Westport, CT Board of Education has suggested ending music lessons for students in grade 4 to 8 in order to close the gap of a budget shortfall affecting the Westport School District because of budget deficits in our state.

From a cognitive viewpoint, the value of music education on brain development, active listening, and focusing ability has been proven by years of studies at the world’s foremost research centers on childhood education.

Youth orchestras, in particular, present a unique opportunity to bring highly motivated young musicians together—which, according to Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, seems to increase the potential for advanced mental processing. A 2014 study by the lab indicated that active engagement in music education helped develop neural processing at a more successful rate, having a direct biological effect on the developing nervous systems of children. 

However, schools like ours cannot develop youth orchestras without the group lesson process.

Music education is a foundational aspect of life of Westport, CT, a town known for its commitment to the arts, drawing countless actors, musicians and artists from Paul Newman to  Nile Rodgers to famed pianist Frederic Chiu. To take away Westport's nationally recognized music education program is to rob our town of its essence as a haven for the arts.

Nothing gives my daughter more joy than her success as a cellist and it is the gifted teachers and the group lessons at the Westport Public Schools that we have to thank for this. I know that many of you Westport parents feel the same way. If you are a parent in Westport, you know the value of this program and I'm respectfully encouraging you to please sign this petition asking Dr. Palmer, Superintendent of Westport Schools not to cut the group music lessons for grade 4 to 8.

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