Ladies and Gentlemen of the Board, I would like to thank you in advance for taking the time in listening to this matter.

I come to you tonight to speak on a matter that is very close to my heart, and close to the hearts of many HUSD students, parents, and community members. First of all, I would like you to know that I do sympathize with the fact that the State of California may be cutting the district's budget, and therefore you are left with some tough decisions. However, one area that you proposed to cut is our Elementary School Music Programs across the HUSD. This will not only affect future and current elementary students, but will evoke the overall downfall of music in our district.

Music at an elementary level is crucial to the success of our students in the future, not only in the arts, but academically and socially. Numerous studies have shown that music not only increases scholastic aptitude, motor functions, and emotional well being, but also provides students with a program that builds character, teamwork, and integrity. It also provides them with a strong social network of friends, giving them a place to belong.

Studies conducted by the Department of Education, in cooperation with many independent research firms, have found music at the elementary level to have vast benefits that will help them now, and the future. This district was founded on the concept that core subjects are to be of the utmost importance to the academic success of our students. "The term 'core academic subjects' is defined as English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography." This definition comes from the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, Title IX, Part A, Sec. 9101. No Child Left Behind puts emphasis on determining which educational programs and practices have been proven effective through rigorous scientific research. The importance of music in our elementary schools has far exceeded this mandate.

Data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 showed that music participants received more academic honors and awards than non-music students, and that the percentage of music participants receiving As, As/Bs, and Bs was higher than the percentage of non- participants receiving those grades. A study of 237 second grade children used piano keyboard training and newly designed math software to demonstrate improvement in math skills. The group scored 27% higher on proportional math and fractions tests than children that used only the math software.

One of the basic reasons that every child should have an education in music is that music is a part of the fabric of our society. The intrinsic value of music for each individual is widely recognized in the many cultures that make up American life - indeed, every human culture uses music to carry forward its ideas and ideals. The importance of music to our economy is without doubt. And the value of music in shaping individual abilities and character are evident.

Being a part of an elementary music program provides students with the social skills, confidence, and teamwork skills that give them the ability to come together for one common goal, to create something that evokes a positive influence on others through the arts, in turn creating a healthy social environment for students to prosper within.

To put it simply, we need to keep the arts in elementary education because they instill in students the habits of mind that last a lifetime: critical analysis skills, the ability to deal with ambiguity and to solve problems, perseverance and a drive for excellence. Furthermore, the creative skills children develop through the arts carry them toward new ideas, new experiences, and new challenges, not to mention personal satisfaction. This is the intrinsic value of the music in our schools, and it cannot be underestimated.

There has also been discussion on the fact that a choice school is being prepared for the arts. However, this model is one that will not benefit the students of our district as a whole, but only make the arts available to students who have parents that will make to effort to ensure their enrollment in this school. Also, this school will only be serving one half of the school district. I assure you this is not the way, simply for the fact that is does not make music education readily to our elementary students.

From a personal standpoint, I have been involved in our districts music programs for the past ten years, starting in third grade playing clarinet, and continuing until now as the Drum Major for HHS. I can honestly say that being a part of my elementary music program has pushed me to where I am today as a musician, a student, and an individual. Music has provided me with more than the ability to play an instrument, or be a part of something bigger than myself, it has given me an entirely new outlook on my life, and completely changed my future, something that would not have happened if I had not begun music at the elementary level in third grade, at Topaz Elementary School. Music has made me confident to achieve my goals, including maintaining an impressive academic record, and leading my group, the Hesperia High School Black & Gold Regiment, which currently has a 94% participation rate in elementary music, to numerous accomplishments as their Drum Major, and now I will be going on to Fresno State University to study Music Education, on full scholarship for my academic and musical accomplishments. I cannot stress the importance of all this beginning at the elementary level.

As a Hesperia Native, I want to be able to come back and serve my home district as a Music Educator, but in light of recent decisions, that hope is becoming increasingly grim.

As one once said, "Music is the universal language of mankind." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I implore you as a student, a musician, and an individual: Please find a way to keep our Elementary Music Programs for the benefit of current and future generations.