STEAM Archives - Infinity Arts Center

August 24, 2019
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Music is almost universal – most of us enjoy it, whether by playing an instrument, singing and dancing to it, or simply listening. However, many schools are having to reduce or end their music programs due to cutbacks in funding. Canceling music programs is a mistake because music is a subject that can enrich children’s lives and education.

 

Here are eight benefits of keeping music in our schools:

 

1.       Music develops language and reasoning skills. Children with early musical training develop the areas of the brain related to these skills. Music helps to develop the left side of the brain, and songs can imprint information on the young mind.

 

2.       Music helps students master memorization. Even using sheet or book music, student musicians are constantly relying upon their memory to play. Memory skills are valuable in education and beyond.

 

3.       Students get practice at improving their work. Learning music is learning a craft, and students want to create successful work instead of mediocre work. This skill can be transferred to other subjects, too.

 

4.       Music teaches pattern recognition, so students can develop their math and pattern-recognition skills.

 

5.       Students with experience in music performance, or even an appreciation of music, score higher on the SAT. In fact, a study shows a 63-point increase in verbal and 44-point increase in math for music students.

 

6.       Music fosters imagination and intellectual curiosity. Children who are introduced to music in the early childhood years develop a positive attitude toward learning.

 

7.       Developing music skills teaches students discipline. Young musicians must learn to set aside time to practice and develop discipline and patience to master playing their instrument.

 

8.       Students who study the arts learn to think creatively. Creative thinking skills help children to think outside the box and even realize there might be more than one right answer.

July 1, 2019
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We live in a world of complementary dualities, each of which is a part of a complete whole.  Light complements dark, sorrow complements joy, effort complements ease, sleep and relaxation (down time) complement our working life.  In life as in art, the negative spaces empower and define the positive ones.  Each defines the other, each gives life to the other, and thus in our world the whole exists.  They are sides of a single coin.

In fashion now are the sciences, currently called STEM, science, technology, engineering and math.  Sciences are concerned with the physical world, the observable and quantifiable.  They seek to understand how the physical universe is constructed, how it works, how it might be changed to adapt to circumstances, how it might serve people.   The sciences work with what can be logically proven or disproven through experimentation.   Together, the sciences have brought about immense and rapid advances in our understanding and in applications in our physical world.

My grandmother began life in a world in which the use of horses was still common.  Before she passed, men traveled to the moon.  Technology in the present advances even more rapidly. The quickened pace of these advances comes at a cost.  In order to devote the amount of attention and cultural value to STEM topics and to fully support these rapid advances, we have largely neglected the partner of STEM, the arts.

Arts – visual arts, music, dance, theater, literature, philosophy and writing, to include some – are more concerned with that which is less readily apprehensible.  Arts apply themselves to our values, our pursuit of wisdom, subjective perceptions and emotions, and to concepts such as joy, beauty and existential truth.  STEM deals exceptionally well with the concretely physical; arts express marvelously our souls.  Both are necessary.

Our world today is unbalanced; some would say it is chaotic.   This is not amazing if we notice that we have neglected the sisters of STEM.  The whole cannot be complete while only half of it is fully accepted and appreciated.  Putting an “A” into the acronym “STEM” to make “STEAM” does little.  The four strands of STEM are still emphasized while the arts are lumped together and given lip service.

At one time – my grandmother’s and maybe also my mother’s – arts had a greater place in our culture.  Schools gave emphasis to literature, writing and music.  Elocution, painting, drawing and crafts were also given instructional time, and exhibitions of these were valued.  Dance and theater were not only performing arts, to be enjoyed if one had time and money, but also often popular pastimes.   In private life, there was time to create beauty.   Math and science were certainly not ignored, but the whole was more balanced.

Not so today.  Schools emphasize and promote STEM subjects, and parents rush to enroll their children in STEM summer camps and extracurricular lessons. Arts in the schools are underfunded and minimal.

We have lost something.  Social structures have lost center or direction as they change and grow.  Balance is good as change progresses; it keeps the change from falling into destructive chaos.  We have lost that balance, that sense of direction, that guidance system.  Some would say we have lost our soul.  Re-including and re-establishing the importance of what we have neglected can help restore what we have lost.

Let us individually grow our whole selves, both the logical and the intuitive, with a sense of the wonder of the universe.

Peace, Diane

You can find more from Diane at  http://thevoicefromthebackrow.com/