To create, one must first imagine; to imagine, one must first learn to see, to listen, to feel, to perceive. Music and the arts are the cornerstone of education in the broadest sense. They open our eyes and ears, develop and transform us personally, connect us emotionally with others, and offer a universal bridge of understanding in a troubled world. Music and the arts play a lifetime role as a child develops into adulthood. They help us integrate body, mind, and spirit, and help us forge bonds with others. The arts encourage us to explore who we are and what we stand for, inspire us to discover our “better angels” as individuals and as societies, and help us overcome barriers of language, generations, and geography to assert our essential humanity. The arts are a beacon of freedom and common cause, and have been the “movers and shakers of the world forever, it seems,” reasserting the universal rights of the human spirit whenever and wherever they are threatened.
From the first soothing sounds of a mother’s lullaby to the bright colors and comforting touch of a favorite blanket or toy, the miraculous world of infancy begins to open up. Babies react to sights and sounds around them, connecting emotions and meanings to what they see and hear. Soon they interact with the outer world as they enter a creative phase of imitating external sounds, rhythms, movements, smiles, gestures. They are, in effect, hooked on the elements of art that surround them: the lines, shapes, textures, colors, patterns, movements, rhythms, expressions, and forms that connect them to their ever-expanding world. The arts help wire and integrate young brains for lifelong learning–energizing and connecting the body, mind, and feelings. An instinctive love of music, poetry, and dramatic play is fostered through nursery rhymes, singing, dancing, and rhythm games, just as the gloriously messy and colorful world of art beckons with unlimited possibilities in finger paints, play dough, bubbles, and blocks. Storytelling, tactile toys and books, pretend games, and games of hiding and discovery like Peekaboo and Hide ‘n Seek stir imaginations and add excitement in the fantastic fray of a toddler’s perceptions. But none of this is mere child’s play: early exposure to the arts lays a complex groundwork of mental, physical, and emotional connections that opens the door to a lifetime of curiosity, learning, experimenting, problem solving, understanding, and creativity.
The arts are at the heart of every child. And the arts must be at the heart of education. If we choose to ignore children’s basic instincts for music and art at early ages, or fail to nourish their innate love of the arts throughout their education as they mature, we will as a society have “missed the beat” and “missed the boat.” The ancient Greeks knew the value of arts in education. Aristotle thought the cornerstones of education should be music for the mind and spirit and gymnastics for the body. Centuries later John F. Kennedy expressed our need for the arts this way:
“The life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of a nation, is very close to the center of a nation’s purpose. . .and is a test of the quality of a nation’s civilization.”
Music in Motion’s 2012 catalog hopes to be true to the spirit of both Aristotle and Kennedy, by presenting the best in music and movement education for all ages, along with complementary art, dance, and creative dramatics, to redirect the arts “to the center of a nation’s purpose,” where they belong. The arts, like the heart, pulsate at the center of our common humanity. They are, simply, our life blood.