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Arts Education Week: MIM marries music and education

By: Jessica Urgiles-- 2015-09-18 5:09 pm --

The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. Photo courtesy of MIM.


Congress first placed a national spotlight on the arts in 2010 with Arts in Education Week, which is being celebrated this week. Much of children’s inquisitiveness and foundation for future learning can be shaped by the arts.  

The Musical Instrument Museum is Phoenix’s hub for artistic culture. As the only global musical instrument museum in the world, it’s dedicated to working with educators to provide students with enriching learning experiences.

Carly Ofsthun, MIM’s education manager, and her team of seven work to create school tours, youth programs and educator workshops. This summer, MIM piloted its first summer camp. Still, Ofsthun says it’s the school tours that are the heartbeat of her department.

“We really believe that when informal institutions, such as MIM, unite with formal educators, this mutual goal of a well-informed community can be realized,” Ofsthun said.

Art is a universal language. A recent Columbia University study found that sharing art helps medical students connect with dementia patients. An arts-centric approach to learning can be valuable for students of all ages. MIM’s interactive technology and dynamic programs offer a range of music-themed lessons.

“Unless you have visited the museum, it’s easy to think it’s just for music teachers. But actually, our tours and curriculum all align with the Arizona State College and Career Ready Standards,” Ofsthun said.

MIM’s global exhibitions allow its nine tours to marry music with core subjects, such as language arts, social studies, science and math. The demand for MIM field trips grows each year — indicating Arizona schools find the tours to be beneficial. The museum has partnerships with 33 school districts and charter schools in Maricopa County. Ofsthun says they even have out-of-state students visit.

These partnerships come at a critical time for schools across the state. Arts funding has nearly been obliterated by prodigious budget cuts. In Arizona, 79 percent of schools spend less than $1 per year per student on arts instruction, according to the 2010 Arts Education Census.

“MIM can certainly use the arts, especially music, as a way to help teach about other curricular areas. It can spark an interest in music, but one field trip would never replace a music program,” she said. “I think it provides an offering and hopefully it helps round out what there should be in schools.”

Arts in Education Week serves as a reminder of the fundamental role of arts in schools. Last month, we donated $5,000 in merchandise to school programs — many of which were music and other art forms. DollarDays’ dedication to the arts and education is underscored by our Give Back Program, which allows you to donate a portion of every purchase to your favorite schools year-round.