The editors of Scientific American have taken a brave stance on the teaching of music in our schools. They’re for it.

That’s all well and good, of course. We’re all for music education in schools, as well as pets for the elderly, walks on the beach and a cure for cancer. I know that’s controversial, but that’s just the kind of person I am. Always looking for a fight.

I suppose that it bolsters the argument in some people’s minds that a scientific publication comes out in support of — gasp — music! But I ‘m struck once again, as always in such cases, by the nature of the argument. The premise is that music is good for your child because a) it bolsters his math scores or b) it helps her with spatial skills or c) it aids his focus and concentration. Etc. Scientific studies prove it.

Call it the utilitarian view: Music is good for kids because it helps them in the things that really matter.

No one would ever think of defending the study of algebra or chemistry or Shakespeare from such premises, even though most of us probably have little practical use for any of them the rest of our lives. No one defends sports in schools in such a way. All of these things are thought of as intrinsic goods, and beyond the pale of debate. Not that we disagree. Kids have to exercise their minds and bodies.

But put an instrument in some child’s eager hands and you have to come up with all sorts of non-musical reasons why you should do so.

That music is a good and necessary thing in itself is apparently beyond the comprehension of most people.

Click here the read the article in Scientific American.