Submitted by Suzanne Humphreys, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Idea posted August 19, 2002

Question: ...I had an 8th grader this week ask (in a rather put out tone of voice) why we had to learn about Beethoven (whom we've been studying), and what the big deal was about his music (we were listening to the 5th Symphony)...

Answer: It's my experience that when a child asks this kind of question, he is only trying to strike a vulnerable nerve. I've always found it best not to swallow the bait, and try to remain as objective as possible. But here are some of my thoughts on the subject.

Why math? Why history? Why Einstein? Why Lincoln?

Music is the common language of the world. It transcends the cultures. It transcends the ages. It's the way in which we understand, communicate, and share our emotions. As with all subjects, math, science, art, languages - the greater the study, the more profound the understanding. Music connects us and promotes empathy among people of all cultures, genders, and ages in our increasingly shrinking world.