Testimony of Ilene Poses to the BOE, September 17, 2020

Educators have known for a long time that music helps improve cognitive skills. Research has backed this theory up. The Music and Brain Program seeks to use this research but the program’s effectiveness is not backed by research – only a 2017 MATB teacher survey, and a 2009 study that compares MATB students to students without any music at all. Of course no music is worse. In the past the district has bought the Corrective Reading and Math programs which were developed around the idea that phonics is important in decoding. However, Corrective Reading program was not effective in improving decoding skills. Why spend $300,000 for a music program whose effectiveness is unproven? We already have skilled music teachers. Use the ‘extra money’ for more music teachers or instruments.

I care about this because I benefited greatly from the district’s music program. I began instrumental lessons at McCloskey Elementary and had the use of a free cello and free lessons until I graduated. I saved up and bought my own cello, played in Temple U. orchestra and still play cello in a community orchestra. Both my daughters began instrumental lessons in the school district and continued to participate in All City. They had a wonderful music teacher, Dave Clark, at Henry School who gave them an exposure and appreciation to all genres of music.

Music was one way I helped my special education students learn every multiplication table by heart. I used song lyrics to help my students improve decoding skills and my ESL students learn the rhythm of speaking in English. Music helps emphasize important issues and make them more memorable which is why I use music in my testimonies. Here’s an example:

Sing to “Go Down Moses”
If Hilco gets the KOZ
Saves from PILOTS to a great degree.
Fund our Philly Schools
Need more supporting now
T-ell the school board
No Pilots we’ll allow.
PILOTS harm the economy
Taxpayers make up the rest
Its site is larger than all downtown
Hilco needs – no treasure chest.