05/16/2011 01:17 am ET | Updated Jul 15, 2011

Students Sound Off: Sophomore Jonathan Murray Hinely On Why Music Education Is Essential

"Students Sound Off" is an ongoing student blogger contest aimed at providing students a loud and clear voice in the education debate presented by HuffPost Education and Get Schooled. As the eighth post in the series, S.C. high school sophomore Jonathan Murray Hinely answers the question:

If you were given the chance, how would you help kids at your school graduate?

Music teaches patience, hard work, time. It shows how hard work pays, benefits. It helps one see the country, and it keeps kids off the street.

In many states of the union, school districts are short of cash and are cutting music programs in the schools. But this isn't the answer to the problem, it actually contributes to the problem of our schools. Music students score higher on standardized tests.

I have been in some form of music my whole life and the sense of community grows each time our band goes to a new competition. Fellow band members who need help know other students who have had the same class and students help each other.

For some kids, band is not only a place to take refuge in, it is the only reason they come to school. If you get rid of the music program, you get rid of these at-risk students, who then turn to the streets, dead end jobs and a very bleak future. Most jobs in our country require a high school degree, with even more jobs requiring a college degree.

Music teaches leadership skills. The first chair in a band carries the melody. People always want to be first and kids will practice around the clock to get a prime spot. This is the first step of being a leader, which is hard work. The other leadership quality they learn is directing a large group of people, granted to a select few Drum Majors.

Today's drum majors are tomorrow's leaders.

Another thing that goes hand-in-hand with leadership is pride. Most students have pride in the school sports team. Band students have this, but they are also a pride in their art. With pride in their art they can do whatever they want. Pride can make the difference in one's life.

The lack of music in schools is making many kids' lives bleak, and teenagers' lives are already turbulent enough -- you don't want to send them over the edge.

Instead of cutting what students need most, cut things that students don't need. Music is something that is very influential for students, but having 10 secretaries isn't. Save our music.

Are you a high school student who wants to sound off to the HuffPost community and win a chance to blog with a celebrity, politician or activist? Find out how on our contest page or read other essays by high school students.

This contest is brought to you by Waiting For "Superman".