Art making, affluence and iPods

Using United States Department of Education statistics, USA Today's Tuesday front page snapshot broke down by household income the percentage of kindergarten through 8th grades kids in 2005 who participated in after school arts activities at least once a month.

There is a progression up the income ladder from 5.7 percent of children from households earning $15,000 or less to 29.8 percent of children from households earning $75,001 or more. Speaking as the dad (income undisclosed) of a new 1st grade child who's demonstrated an early interest in music, the link between affluence and art making, while not totally unexpected, is nonetheless saddening. We need to encourage the young creators in our midst.

On the other hand, perhaps the reported number of after school participants represents an increase in the number of children making art. With 20 percent of all U.S. residents owning an MP3 player of some sort, a figure that is likely higher for the nation's youth, maybe more children and teens participate in music making than in the recent past. I don't know.

I do know that cognitive and neurological research says we are changed by the tools we use. Could we be changing, even now?