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Music Education

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To The Editor:

What academic endeavor combines elements of mathematics, physics, physical education, foreign language, history, culture and the discipline of team sports into one all-encompassing activity?

The answer is music. During this month’s celebration of Music in Our Schools Month, which is observed each March, Massena Music Friends would like to remind everyone that school music programs are a vital component to a sound, basic education.

Music holds a special place in the overall educational curriculum, in part, because of its multi-faceted and cross-curricular components.

Music is based on subdivisions of time and as such develops mathematical skills. The infinite varieties of musical rhythm present constant mathematical challenges to musicians of all skill levels.

Music is a foreign language. The mastery of musical symbols and notation allows performers to “say” things that are not possible in everyday speech. In addition, many musical style and tempo markings are Italian words or phrases. Vocal music presents the opportunity for musicians to sing in a variety of tongues.

Music is history and culture. Almost all music reflects something about the era and location in which it was composed. Music often presents opportunities to present a work of art in the context of things that were happening in the world at the time, and/or a broader cultural context.

Music is physical education. Learning how to sing or play an instrument develops important physical characteristics like proper breath control, gross and fine motor muscle coordination, stamina and perseverance.

Music is time management. Academic classes are assigned homework, which hones the skills and concepts being taught and teaches students to manage time well. Music often requires outside practice and application of those same time management skills.

Music is teamwork. Athletes learn the basic skills of their sport, practice them individually, “rehearse” them repeatedly with their teammates and apply all of those skills learned to game situations so the team can perform well. School musicians go through the same life-skills process, with the end result being that they come together as a “team” to do something they alone could never do.

Numerous studies bear out the benefits of music education from higher-than-average graduation rates, lower dropout rates and higher SAT and ACT scores among school musicians.

Aside from being important from an academic standpoint, music programs have traditionally played a major role in linking schools to the community. This is especially true in Massena. Through public performances like winter and spring concerts, the spring “tour” by the select ensembles, and the annual musical production, students showcase their talents to a public audience. These performances show the best of what our students, under the professional guidance of their music teachers, can do.

In short, there are as many reasons to support fully-funded school music programs as there are students who participate in them, be they a kindergartener discovering how body movement and rhythms are connected, or a high school senior blowing an improvised solo in the jazz ensemble.

Later this month, you have an opportunity to see over 80 reasons to support music and the arts, both on stage and behind the scenes, during the Massena High School music and drama department’s production of Back to the 80s. The show runs Friday and Saturday with curtain time at 8 p.m. both nights. Tickets are just $10.

Massena Music Friends invites you come to the show a little early and enjoy some “donation-only” refreshments and some super-cool 1980s-themed decorations in the lobby before the curtain rises. We’ll even have an 80s-themed photo booth for your entertainment, so bring your digital camera. Tickets are available at the high school box office 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, or if you can’t make it to the school to buy tickets, music director Chris Lincoln will accept credit/debit card ticket orders by phone. Tickets ordered by phone can be picked up at the box office the night of the show. Call 764-3710, ext. 3128. However you choose to buy tickets, please do so. The students and their directors have worked very hard and deserve our support. Happy MIOSM.

Paul Haggett

President

Massena Music Friends

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