"Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul." (Plato)
All students deserve access to the rich education and understanding that the arts provide, regardless of their background, talents, or disabilities. In an increasingly technological environment overload with sensory data, the ability to perceive, interpret, understand and evaluate each stimuli is critical. The arts help all students to develop multiple capabilities for understanding and deciphering an image-and symbol-laden world. Thus, music should be an integral part of a program of general education for all students. In particular, students with disabilities who are often excluded from music programs can derive great benefit from them and for the same reasons that studying music benefits students who are not disabled. As many teachers can testify, the arts can be a powerful vehicle, sometimes the best vehicle for reaching, motivating and teaching a given student. At the same time, there is a continuing need to make sure that all students have access to the learning resources and opportunities they need to succeed. Thus, as in any area of the curriculum, providing sound education in music will depend in great measure on creating access to opportunities and resources.
In this context, the idea that an education in the arts, specifically music, is just for "the talented" and not for "regular students" or those with disabilities can be a stumbling block. The argument that relegates the arts to the realm of passive experience for the majority, or that says a lack of"real talent" disqualifies most people from learning to draw, play an instrument, dance, or act, is simply unsound. Clearly, students have different aptitudes and abilities in the arts, but differences are not disqualifications. An analogy may be helpful. We expect mathematical competence of all students because a knowledge of mathematics is essential to shaping and advancing our society, economy, and civilization. Yet no one ever advances the proposition that only those students who are mathematically "talented" enough to learn a living as a mathematician should study long division or algebra. Neither then should talent be a factor in determining the place or value of music in an individual's basic education.
Performing, creating, and responding to music are the fundamental music processes in which humans engage. Students, particularly in K-5, learn by doing. Singing, playing instruments, moving to music and creating music enable them to acquire musical skills and knowledge that can be developed in no other way. Learning to, analyzing, and evaluating music are important building blocks of musical learning. Further, to participate fully in a diverse, global society, students must understand their own historical and cultural heritage and those of others within their communities and beyond. Because music is a basic expression of human culture, every student should have access to a balanced, comprehensive and sequential program of study in music.
(From National Standards for Arts Education and Music Educators' National Conference)