City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) called for an increased investment in music education at a news conference on the state of music education in his district Friday morning.
At PS 173 in Fresh Meadows, Lancman said decades have passed since music teachers were eliminated from New York City schools in the 1970s but music education has yet to improve despite the economy’s recovery.
“The best performers in the world come to New York, but so many of our own kids never even get to touch an instrument,” Lancman said. “Music education isn’t optional—it’s as essential as math and science and the city must fund it adequately.”
Molly Wang, PS 173’s principal, said music is a key component in developing a child holistically.
“Music is not only relaxing, but it promotes language development, math concepts, cultural understanding and teamwork,” Wang said.
Lancman recently surveyed all the schools in his district and found that more than 25 percent of schools do not offer music classes.
Many of the schools that do offer music education, including PS 173 at 174-10 67th Ave., do not have the resources for a full program, he said.
For example, PS 173’s orchestra does not have enough instruments for the students to all practice at the same time, nor does it have a dedicated music room for practice, he noted.
Citywide, 59 percent of city schools do not have a certified music teacher and only 30 percent of students participated in music classes in the 2014-15 school year, even after $23 million in city money was added to arts education, according to Lancman.
State standards mandate that all students in grades K-8 receive music education.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour