Music has been understood since ancient times to be mathematical beauty made audible. The actress and singer-songwriter Minnie Driver explained in a White House blog post that “Without music in my curriculum, I never would have understood math. I am so grateful to the teacher who … encouraged me to explore my love of music as a way to help unscramble my block with mathematics.”
A century ago, a notable academic institution set an example in how to develop STEM students. Long before it was a university, the Carnegie Institute of Technology included a drama department as part of its core educational mission. The US’s “oldest conservatory training, and the first degree-granting drama institution…” was established in 1914 by one of America’s greatest STEM educational institutions. Policymakers should build on Carnegie’s pedagogical model of combining STEM disciplines with the arts.
The Executive Branch’s centralized regulatory review process is capable of playing a lead role in ensuring that music education is recognized as a STEM program. National security statutes promoting STEM education don’t contain any statutory bars to the executive branch recognizing that music is part of mathematics. Thus, OMB should consider issuing guidance directing agencies to recognize music education as qualifying for STEM-related funding unless contrary to law. In short, STEM could and should become STEMM; Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Music.