Caledonia 90-year-old makes a stand for music in school

Ervin Barth, of Caledonia, Minn., liked to sing a lot growing up.

When he was plowing his land, he tried to drown out his tractor, he tells the Rochester Post Bulletin.

“I don’t sing nearly as much as I once did. (I’m) running out of wind, I guess,” he says. That’s understandable. He’s 90 now.

He lives in an old farmhouse on 40 acres he bought for $5 an acre years ago. That’s valuable land these days, and so Barth has given it away to provide more music for kids in school, the newspaper reports today.

He’s donated it to a foundation he set up to provide music in Caledonia and its school.: Whatever money the land fetches, it has to be used for music in the schools.

“I feel that music is a lot more important than football in school,” he said.

Caledonia has had to cut millions from its budget in recent years. There aren’t many music teachers and the instruments are old now.

There are plenty of studies that show that music education in school stimulates the brain in a way that makes academic success much more likely. And yet many districts keep slicing music as an unnecessary extra-curricular, often not quite as valuable as sports.

Related: A small-town barber and a million-dollar gift (Boston Globe)