The short documentary “The Missing Note” shows how fine arts are not just fun but integral for students and their education and what we can do to save them.
“The Missing Note”, created by Wes Carrasquillo, talks about how the fine arts are being cut, de-funded, or completely removed from school districts in Illinois. Teachers, school faculty, and former students talk about how students do better in school because of the arts, and how often when those programs are cut or maimed, the students often feel like they have nowhere to go and their sense of community is completely gone.
One of the most powerful stories in this documentary is that of Angel Melendez, a Grammy-nominated composer and music teacher. Melendez says that the music program was his escape from the gang culture that overtook his peers. It helped him focus, gave him a purpose, and gave him an out.
The sad thing is that this isn’t just happening in Illinois — it’s happening everywhere.
When my sister was in high school the school district (in Michigan) tried to save money by cutting the music programs from her school. The measures wouldn’t completely remove the programs, but they would be crippled them to the point where they would be difficult to impossible to maintain. My sister, previous and current choir members, band students, faculty, and previous staff member flocked to the school board meetings to protest and to share their personal stories of how the arts changed their life and helped them stay in school. The good news: their arts were saved. But, unfortunately, many schools aren’t this lucky.
So after watching this documentary, what can you do to help the fine arts stay in your school district?
The first thing that the documentary encourages people to do is to call their state senators and representatives and tell them to “look at the formula that is used to fund public education within the state.”
The second, as Kevin Slattery says in the documentary, is to contact the district administrators to let them know how important the arts are to you and your students. As one woman says in the video:
People feel disheartened and they feel like they can’t make a difference but if we all band together we can make a difference because the squeaky wheel gets the grease. So if all the parents got together and all the tax-payers in an area said we feel it’s really important to have music in the schools, you can be guaranteed that the school district will listen.
Is your school district attempting to cut the fine arts? Have you voiced your opinion? Did the fine arts have an impact on you when you were growing up?
Thank you to Wes Carrasquillo for sending us this documentary and for spreading the word about this important topic!