Music makes studying more focused, say students in the senior high-school who have had a chance to take music as a special option in addition to their general and matriculation subjects. The same may be said by their teachers, who have noticed that the youngsters with an active, purposeful interest in music clearly put more into their other school work than their ‘ordinary’ peers do. Many of those in the music line are multi-talented and get good grades in the matriculation exam.
One science teacher made a particularly noteworthy comment in saying that since the music line was introduced in the school there has been more room for creativity and emotional expression channelled through the arts. This enriches the operating culture of the entire school in many ways: the positive charge experienced by the music-making students is caught up by the whole school, both in its ordinary everyday life and at numerous joint events and special occasions. Music leaves its mark on the whole school image and benefits the non-musicians as well in many ways.
The decision to start a music line at Kuhmo High School in 2002 was a good one in many ways. As the school began to echo to the sound of music, a general rise in study motivation was easy to observe. Many of the music students have, namely, been accustomed to persistent practising from the time they were very young, and because of their time-consuming hobby they have learnt to work efficiently in order to leave room for school and often other hobbies on top of their music. The youngsters interested in music are often also active in other hobbies and, for example, organisations. They are also a more effective study model for their fellow students than anything adults can say by way of motivation.
The chance to study music and be creative is also a major boost to the self-esteem of youngsters whose achievements leave something to be desired in theoretical subjects. Music then serves as a sort of engine driving them to complete their theoretical subjects: finishing the course with a modicum of success becomes a matter of honour. Music is for them a field in which they can experience a feeling of success – and there are clear signs of transfer.
These observations are based on my experience as Principal of Kuhmo High School in the four years since the music line was introduced and during the time it has become established. In four years the music line has become a significant asset for the school and now accounts for one third of the students.
I have also been involved in various arts and cultural education assignments within the community and adult education. The basic education in the arts, which in many Finnish municipalities also takes in music, is an important supplement to the syllabus for the general school at a time when arts subjects are constantly having to make room for theoretical ones.
The objective in the arts education of the young is to promote the all-round and balanced development of the personality. Many of those in the high-school’s music line can later go on to higher education and careers in music. For most, music is an important component in life and a cherished hobby that enriches their lives in many ways, regardless of where they go when they leave school.