Montana Ethic Project: Let’s harness the power of music


Joey and Libby Early

Ilse Mari-Lee, a performer and musical educator, talks about the importance of encouraging music programs in Montana schools.

This is the 31st chapter of the 32-part video series “The Montana Ethic Project.” This chapter features Ilse Mari-Lee, the dean of the Honors College at Montana State University in Bozeman and a concerto soloist, recitalist and chamber musician, talking about  on “Music: An Integral Part in the Lives of Montanans.” You can watch the whole video below. Here is an edited transcript of how it begins:

“Hello. I’m Ilse Mari-Lee. I’ve lived in Montana longer than anywhere else in my life actually. I’ve been here for 22 years now after I moved from South Africa, where I was born. I love Montana because of the high plains and the open skies and, you know, maybe the Dutch people in Manhattan resonate with me. If I go to their farmers market they look like my cousins!

“But today I would like to talk to you about the power of music.”

Here is another, edited excerpt from Mari-Lee’s presentation:

“We know that music can uplift, and music can make you feel good, and music can bring you to tears, and music can be the soundtrack of your life in many, many ways. But now we are beginning to understand what music can do as an educational tool. The statistics are out there. Rather than have me bore you with numbers, just go to the Music Educators National Conference website and look at the statistics at what will happen if a student has the opportunity to take music in school. Suddenly their SAT and ACT scores will sky rocket. It’s just incredible what a gift it is to the development of the brain, of critical thinking, firing across both hemispheres of the brain, with music.

“Nothing else can do it like music. Music provides the enjoyment of actually living in a piece of art. You don’t have to go to a museum to experience Beethoven, you go to the symphony orchestra, you listen to it on you mp3, or you play it on your cello. You experience the art. This is very important. We know that music can uplift. We know that it has great benefits intellectually in the development of our students. As stewards of the land and as stewards of the future generations of Montanans, please don’t let that fall away in your school district.”

PERC_Logo_MontanaEthicPERC—the Property & Environment Research Center—is a proud sponsor of the Montana Ethic Project. To learn how PERC’s ideas can help us honor one another’s rights to land, water, and wildlife,visit

First week: Project introduction.

Second week: Richard Drake on “Terrorism and the Consolation of History.”

Third week: Mike Gear on “The Value of Athletics.”

Fourth week: Franke Wilmer on “Gender Equity.”

Fifth week: Gordon Brittan on “The Founding Fathers.”

Sixth week: Jim Posewitz on “Montana Sportsmen and the Hunter’s Ethic.”

Seventh week: The Rev. Jessica Crist on “Religion and Politics: Can They Co-exist?”

Eighth week: Chuck Tooley on “The Montana Character.”

Ninth week: Steve Bullock on “Citizens United v. Montana.”

10th week: Carol Williams on “The Imperative for Female Government Participation.”

11th week: Bob Rowe on Technological Development.”

12th weekGeorge Metcalfe on “Economic Development in Africa and Its Relationship to Montana.”

13th weekBruce Smith on “Montana’s Food Economy.”

14th week: Peggy Beltrone on “Montana Wind Energy—Business and Politics.”

15th week: Mark Solon on “Creating an Intermountain West Startup Economy.”

16th week: Bill Yellowtail on “Futuring and Native Leadership.”

17th week: Judy Martz on “Trust in the Lord and He Will Direct Your Path.”

18th week: Bob Brown on “Teddy Roosevelt’s Shadow in Montana’s Big Sky.”

19th week: Gordon Belcourt on “A Montana Native Perspective.”

20th week: Dorothy Eck on “The Montana Constitution and the Right to Know.”

21st week: Pat Barkey on “The Montana Wage Disparity.”

22nd week: Thomas Power on “Valuing Montana: An Economist’s Observations.”

23rd week: Larry Simkins on “The Culture of Safety.”

24th week: James Shanley on “Education Reform.”

25th week: Greg Gianforte on “High Tech in Montana.”

26th week: Jakki Mohr on “The Corporate Model for the 21st Century.”

27th week: Timothy James Lecain on “An Ethical Nature?”

28th week: Steve Running on “Montana Climate Change.”

29th week: Jamie Doggett on “The Role of the Humanities in Functional Communities.”

30th week: Bob Quinn on “Is it Time for GM Wheat?”

31st week: Terry Anderson on “Free Market Environmentalism.”

Next week: Michael Sexson on “Mythic Montana: The Last and the Best.”

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