Students stand to benefit from art programs

Monica Reida/Staff Writer
Every day I go down to the art room for class. I have been taking art for all three years I’ve been attending Cedar Falls High School.

Most kids who take art classes would be referred to by my grandmother as “basket making kids.” Those are the kids who take art because they think it’s an easy A or a study hall or a free-for-all.

To quote the musical Sunday In The Park With George, “Art isn’t easy.”

And it’s not. Thought and effort has to be put into any fine art. By the fine arts, I mean music, drama and visual arts.
I am not a “basket making kid.” I’ve gotten good grades in art, but I don’t focus on art to the point that I exclude the possibility of exploring other academic skills.

Yes, Cedar Falls High School was recently identified as a School In Need of Assistance. But how do we solve this problem?
Well, taking away or restricting access to the fine arts is not the way to go. In art class, thinking is required along with effort. Believe me, artistic effort is an adventure in problem solving. If something doesn’t work out the way you wanted to and you can’t get rid of it, you have to find a way to make it work.

Musical skills also bring deep rewards. Studies have shown that kids who do music tend to be better at math and world languages. In music, one has to do adding with the beats of a measure of music. There’s also subtraction involved when a director says, “Let’s take it from x measures from y.”

Well, they don’t say it that way, but you get my point.
As for world languages, several music markings are in Italian. Some come from German. By becoming familiar with terms like allegro (fast) and fortissimo (really loud), one is exploring Spanish.

The fine arts also teach time management. Perfection comes with practice and lots of it. Joe and Suzie Everyman/Everywoman have to find a way to manage their time to take care of all of this, and while they might be tired in the morning, this is a reality for most students.

In addition, those who do music have to be able to work together. Regardless of if it’s in orchestra, band or choir, music students have to make music as a group.

Cedar Falls High School has an exceptional music program. Our marching band, concert band, wind symphony, string orchestra, symphonic orchestra and concert choir have been getting Division I ratings at contests for years. We have really great performing groups. In addition we had a performing group in Musical Theater go to All-State last year.

Having school theater does more than enrich the lives of children. Theater teaches teenagers teamwork, in addition to encouraging that reading comprehension. Usually, it helps if you understand the play that you’re in. Doing shows like Arsenic and Old Lace (which is the upcoming CFHS production) gives students the opportunity to appreciate the classics.
Plus, rehearsals keep kids off of the streets and reeking havoc. Increasing the funding for theater programs could also give students a greater chance for building bigger sets or doing more plays or newer musicals.

Investing in fine arts is a great idea. The fine arts teach children skills that are essential in the world beyond music or drawing or theater. Emphasizing the arts brings big returns not only for Cedar Falls High School but also for America’s future.

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