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An appreciation for George Duke’s passion for music education

8/23/2013, 2:56 a.m.

In preparation for his professional music career, Duke pursued and earned a bachelor’s degree in trombone and composition, with a minor in contrabass from the San Francisco Conservatory in 1967. He earned his Master’s degree in composition from San Francisco State University and taught courses on Jazz and American Culture at Merritt College in Oakland, California.

Duke asks and answers the question, is music in public school necessary? He writes, “I say with no hesitation ABSOLUTELY YES. Music is as important as the other sciences. It is the other side of the brain and both need to be exercised and utilized. Life is about balance and music helps create that balance and release Music training in school where one plays or sings with others helps build life skills even if one doesn’t continue in the field.”

Duke believed school music programs help students “learn various disciplines that stay with a child for the rest of their lives. A strong music program gives children attainable goals, something to look forward to, challenges that keep their minds occupied with positive creative thought. There are enough negative distractions in the world and a little music training can go a long way towards shaping and guiding a child’s future in a positive direction.”

In closing his essay Duke wrote, “Each of us must decide for ourselves the reasons that school music programs are important and necessary. It’s obvious to me that early school music programs lay the foundation for better music and musicians in the future. But along with that thought process must come a call to action, an unabashed zeal to speak that truth when and where necessary. WE MUST KEEP MUSIC IN THE SCHOOLS!”

Jayne Matthews Hopson writes about education because “only the educated are free.”