President Barack Obama’s major address on health care on September 9th presented a major dilemma to what has become a substantial American constituency â€“ it was on the same night as the premiere of â€œGlee,â€ a television show about a high school glee club that has become a major hit for the Fox television network. More than 15 million viewers reportedly watched Glee’s fall premiere episode (at least one of them being able to watch Obama’s speech as well by skipping the Republican response.) Glee is often one of the top ranked topics on Twitter and has generated such popular home-grown videos on YouTube as this split-personality cover of â€œDon’t Stop Believingâ€:
People are starting to call Glee watchers Gleeks. Reports have gone so far as to suggest that Glee is changing the music industry. A la “American Idol,” a national concert tour of “Glee” is in the works.
But what about its effect on high school glee clubs, and high school music programs? The answer is ironic.
Glee clubs have been around for three centuries. The first singing group to be called a Glee Club is said to date back to 1787 in London. In the United States, they are found largely in schools. â€œGlees clubs traditionally somewhere between choirs and pep bands,â€ says Deborah Simpkin King, a music scholar, chorus consultant, artistic director of Schola Cantorum On Hudson, and a member of the American Choral Directors Association. â€œSome, however, are quite fine, even sophisticated, such as the Harvard Glee Club.â€
While interest in Glee is intense, music programs are being cut back drastically in many elementary schools, middle schools and high schools across the country. Interestingly, this has given rise to a growth of independent children’s choirs to take up the slack. But, to music educators like King, it is not enough. High school glee clubs and music education in general are of great benefit to students no matter what their level of musical talent:
â€œIt combines great literature with social skills â€“ working together as a team. At the same time, it highlights the beauty of an individual voice. It deals with math: Rhythm is nothing more than math; it forces us to deal with it in another way. Music is literally another language. Musical instruction produces academic results. It’s no surprise that members of high school choruses are often the best students academically.â€
Here’s how glee club helped the football team of the fictional McKinley High School in Lima, Ohio win the game:
â€œIf you enjoy singing with your neighbors, congregation, or classmates, you’re taking an increasingly popular path to a successful life. According to a new study by Chorus America, an estimated 32.5 million adults regularly sing in choruses today, up from 23.5 million estimated in 2003. And when children are included, there are 42.6 million Americans singing in choruses in 2009. More than 1 in 5 households have at least one singing family member, making choral singing the most popular form of participation in the performing arts for both adults and children.
â€œThat’s good news because singing in one of the 270,000 choruses in the U.S., such as a community chorus or a school or church choir, is strongly correlated with qualities that are associated with success throughout life, the study finds. Greater civic involvement, discipline, and teamwork are just a few of the attributes fostered by singing with a choral ensemble.â€
Maybe the president should make a speech about the need forâ€¦.glee clubs.
For your information
The cast of Glee
Â· Amber Riley as Mercedes
Â· Chris Colfer as Kurt
Â· Cory Monteith as Finn Hudson
Â· Dianna Agron as Quinn
Â· Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester
Â· Jayma Mays as Emma Pillsbury
Â· Jenna Ushkowitz as Tina
Â· Jessalyn Gilsig as Terri Schuester
Â· Kevin McHale as Artie
Â· Lea Michele as Rachel Berry
Â· Mark Salling as Puck
Â· Matthew Morrison as Will Schuester