Bravo to Karen Jeffery for her fine letter, "Sports are essential," May 10. Essential also is music, and it is a core part of the elementary curriculum.

Music has value in and of itself, but it also impacts the development of intelligence and academic learning. Research has proven that a child performing music on a regular basis is stimulating general intelligence more than his counterpart who does not sing or play.

Music in all grades requires higher-level thinking. Students must analyze, create, evaluate and make informed judgments. Music facilitates a connection between body and mind, between abstract and concrete thought. It builds many kinds of literacy while developing intuition, reasoning, imagination, coordination, timing, accuracy and dexterity. Music, better than any other discipline, integrates the whole person and nourishes the quest for beauty and expression.

The military and the private sector have identified as critical the skills developed in musical performing groups: independence, self-discipline, cooperation, teamwork, creative problem solving, responsibility and leadership.

It would be an extreme disservice to the children and to the future of our valley to eliminate elementary music. — Barbara B. Topper, Medford

I attended the Ways and Means Committee meeting on April 30. I am writing this letter because I need my state to understand that higher education is one of the most important things that can be offered to young people.

We know there will be cuts, but adequate funding for colleges is imperative to keeping tuition affordable and realistic. With an unemployment rate of more than 12 percent (the second highest in the nation), making college available is the only way to put Oregonians back to work for good. We need an educated work force here, so the state can keep moving forward.

Funding higher education is truly an investment that everyone will benefit from. Education cannot be ignored, and we cannot push it aside if we hope to get Oregon back on track and back to work. — Emily McLaughlin, Ashland

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