|Memo to: Members of the Yale Class of 1957|
From: Malcolm Mitchell and Don Roberts
Re: Class Project
We're making great headway on the class project. Binky Davis has
reported frequently on the project in the Yale Alumni Magazine 1957
Class Notes. Nevertheless, now, two years after our 40th Reunion, seems
like a good time to bring all of you up to date.
1. What is the background on the project?
At our 1997 Reunion a handful of classmates floated the idea of a
project our Class could work on collectively between then and our 50th
Reunion. The goal: to give something back to the larger community. We
wanted a project that would be an undertaking of the entire Class, not
just a few classmates. With more of us retired, we hoped we would be
able to engage many classmates, before our energy dwindles, in a
satisfying way. We wanted to avoid, to the extent possible, making the
project a fund-raising proposition. We also wanted a project that has a
Yale/New Haven flavor to it.
2. What is the project?
In the summer of 1998, we asked the Class Council to select the project
from among five or six candidates. That august body decided, nearly
unanimously, to focus on music education in our nation's primary and
The objective that was set is to promote expanded music education in
public schools K-12 across the country, to reverse what we perceive to
be the reduction in music education that has occurred over many years,
or at least since our K-12 years.
We would undertake four tasks:
- a) gather serious research that establishes the links between music
education in K-12 and the well-being of young people, both academic and
emotional. If a national clearing house for such research does not
exist, we could consider means for creating one;
- b) collect anecdotes and studies of music programs that are
benefiting young people and the schools, and compile information on how
such programs were established - whether from within or outside the
school, by whom, with what support, etc.;
- c) disseminate the information gathered in a) and b) in such a way,
and to such an audience, as to best further our objective; and
- d) develop and implement programs, either independently or with
others (e.g., the Yale School of Music is at work on this in New Haven),
that we feel, on the basis of what we have learned above, have the best
chances of leading to expanded music education in our schools.
3. Where does the project stand now?
About 50 classmates from all over the country have expressed interest in
working on the project at various levels of intensity. Their names are
on this letterhead. We've had four organizational meetings, and we have
gotten a big boost from the enthusiastic participation of Robert
Blocker, Dean of the Yale School of Music.
We've already found a good deal of evidence to support the idea that
music education helps academic performance of young people. Steve
Hopkins in April met with MENC (The National Association for Music
Education), a Washington-based group representing 70,000 music
educators. MENC reports that students involved in music, either through
appreciation courses or as performers, score 40 SAT points higher in
math, 60 points higher in verbal, than those with no arts course work.
Other research we have since collected, as well as many books and
articles by psychologists and others, lend further confirmation.
On the anecdotal level, we've heard from many classmates, and some
spouses, who are familiar with successful music education programs
around the country. For example, Jack Curlett reports on students with
music studies in economically disadvantaged portions of Winston-Salem
doing better on standardized tests than students from well-to-do areas
who have not had music studies.
In July, Binky Davis, Sandy Clark, and the two of us met with Dean
Blocker and others in New Haven to discuss the project. The Dean had
recruited for the discussion Tom Duffy, Associate Dean of Yale's music
school, Don Gibson, Director of Music at Ohio State, and Sam Hope,
Executive Director of the National Association of Schools of Music. All
of them have broad experience in the kinds of efforts that our project
On November 20, before the satisfying Harvard game, 11 classmates met to
review our progress and discuss the next steps.
4. What are the next steps?
The group that met on November 20 agreed to form three committees to
pursue tasks a), b), and d) in #2 above:
- a) Rod Correll and Steve Hopkins will be the focal points for
classmates who would like to help gather serious research on the
benefits of music education;
- b) Sandy Clark will do the same for the collection of anecdotes and
studies of successful school programs; and
- c) Don Roberts and Tom Perkins will organize our efforts to see how
we can support the School of Music's programs in New Haven.
5. What can I do?
The success of the project will depend on the extent to which classmates
participate, and participation can be at whatever level of time or
energy you choose to contribute.
Perhaps you'd be willing to describe instances of successful music
education programs in your area, or to conduct interviews in your school
district or at an individual school, using a unified set of questions
that we'll establish about the effectiveness of their music programs.
Or perhaps you'd like to participate in our efforts in New Haven.
We're also looking for a web master who can help us use the Internet to
solve the logistical problems that will arise in our collection and
dissemination of information.
If you'd like to get involved in the project in any way, please contact
either of the undersigned or any of our classmates on this
Please also let us know if you'd like to be involved in our ongoing,
long-term planning for the project. The next opportunities for such
planning will be before the RPI hockey game in New Haven on January
29th, and at the annual class dinner in New York on March 16. You will
receive separate notices of each meeting.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Malcolm Mitchell & Don Roberts
December 8, 1999