Popular music evokes powerful emotions, from the song you hear on the radio that reminds you of a special life moment, to a college fight song played at an athletic event. Words set to melodies that somehow convey the emotions we feel but can’t express make music a powerful force in our lives.


          Unfortunately, music and music education play a very small role these days in the education curriculum of Texas ’ schools, even though approximately 95 percent of parents, in a 2001 survey conducted by The Americans for the Arts, responded that “the arts were important in preparing children for their future.” 


          According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, nearly one in five American schools fails to offer music or art classes even once a week. This lack of arts programming comes as no surprise as school districts and PTAs struggle to pay for the basics. Secondary education frequently considers the arts non-essential, and music and art instruction are often the first extra-curricular programs to lose funding when times are tight.


          Luckily for Texans, the non-profit Social Marketing Resource Center launched The Texas Music Project last summer to give music education programs a boost. The Texas Music Project (TMP) called on Texas musicians to lend their talents to the cause by participating in an annual compact disc project, with sales benefitting the Texas Music Project. Texas schools will have access to TMP funds through grants and need-based awards to create full-time, rigorous music education curricula.


          Released in September, the “Don’t Mess With Texas Music, Vol. 1” CD features a variety of country, rock and roll, blues and soul music from nationally known and emerging Texas artists, including Erykah Badu, Clint Black, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Delbert McClinton and Willie Nelson. Willie served as the honorary chairman of this year’s endeavor and donated one of his best-known blues tunes, “Night Life,” recorded with B.B. King, for the Vol. 1 CD.


          In addition to helping education programs, the TMP will promote the Texas music industry through a series of concerts at clubs and music venues, and community events and festivals throughout the state. Support for the TMP includes music educators’ associations, the Texas Commission on the Arts and the Texas Coalition for Quality Arts Education.


          Texas ’ investment in the arts is approximately 18 cents per citizen, placing the state near the bottom of the national average: $1.44 per citizen. Dallas has become home to many major arts venues. What a loss it would be if our schoolchildren did not have the training and exposure to music to allow them to appreciate these local assets. More importantly, music education has scholarly benefits as well — according to the Texas Music Educators’ Association, art students outperform their non-art peers on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, with Texas All-State music students consistently scoring 200 points higher. 


          Preston Hollow resident Bruce Orr, executive director and co-founder of the Texas Music Project, has built a unique coalition of government and corporate sponsorship to strengthen this often overlooked area of Texas education. Local Starbucks and Tom Thumb grocery stores sell the CD, and Tom Thumb will contribute one percent of customer Reward Card purchases to the project through its Good Neighbor program, which donates money directly to non-profit organizations in the community. Watch for the Starbucks’ Texas Music Project Showcase, which will host a series of performances at neighborhood Starbucks featuring great Texas artists and student musicians from the Dallas community. 


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