Rhode Island lawmakers passed legislation requiring more music performance opportunities in public schools. The bill mandates that all public secondary schools offer performing ensembles such as band, chorus or orchestra.
Most public schools in Rhode Island have performance ensembles, but some are offered before or after school and sometimes for no credit. Advocates say the new mandate is a step towards incorporating these ensembles into standard arts curricula.
According to the Rhode Island Music Education Association, Rhode Island is one of the few states to pass such legislation.
RIMEA President TJ Harper calls performance a vital part of music education for students.
"They’re learning how to work in a collaborative manner with other students," said Harper. "They’re learning how to adjust their tone and volume as they watch a conductor. And this is invaluable for students’ ability to think creatively."
Some school leaders have expressed concerns about unfunded education mandates, like this one. Budget crunches have led some school districts to cut back on some music programs in the past.
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