Because of small school sizes and the distance from arts resources, rural schools often face an uphill battle in providing quality music education. Growing up in a small, rural school district, I grew up with the struggles of instrument and private lesson availability. I am grateful to my parents for moving to a surburban community, which provided many more opportunities and resources as a high school music student. This article features Valley Middle/High School in Idaho, where a music program just resurfaced after many years without. Robbie Hanchey, music teacher in the 600-student district, said band students learn teamwork, dedication, how to listen and “taking something they’re not good at and cleaning it up," which translates to their other classes. Other schools in the area only provide music instruction from a part-time teacher to elementary students. For resources to promote music education in your rural school district, visit the Advocacy Resources section of our website.
Music for All's Strategic Advocacy Partner, NAMM, recently attended the National School Board Association (NSBA) Conference in New Orleans to promote music education in our nation's schools. The NAMM Foundation provided advocacy sessions, an open wind ensemble rehearsal and a culminating drum circle event for conference attendees April 5-7. "I see the wonderful things music education does for students. The value of music and the arts are paramount to a child’s success and well being," said former NSBA president Sonny Sovoie. Additionally, the NAMM Foundation hosted a SupportMusic Coalition webinar from the NSBA Conference, which featured experts in music education and advocacy, including administrators from Louisiana's St. Charles Parish Public Schools.
Music empowers all of us in different ways, but it is often theraputic. For many, like Edison H.S. senior Anthony Gonzales, music can be an escape from a challenging home life. A fifth grade teacher encouraged Anthony to join band and learn an instrument, and the rest is history. Anthony now plays seven instruments and wants to become a music educator himself. "That's the beauty of the instrument is you fill up with air, and you get this puffed-out chest, and you have to stand up tall, and it's really hard not to think highly of yourself when you have a puffed-out chest and you're all the way standing up straight," said Anthony. We wish Anthony the best of luck! You can view his story below.
South Texas school district and Bands of America participant McAllen Independent School District was recently designated as a 2014 Best Community for Music Education by the NAMM Foundation. Last week, the district held an awards ceremony that featured musicians from the Homer J. Morris Middle School Orchestra. According to district fine arts director Karen Herrera, 60% of the 5,700 middle schools in McAllen ISD are involved in music. “There’s a rich history of dedication to the fine arts in McAllen,” said Superintendent James Ponce. “This is important to our community.” Congratulations to McAllen ISD and the McAllen community for being named a Best Community for Music Education!
Just like many of us, famous musicians and artists got their start in a school music classroom. One of this year's most active artists, Pharrell Williams, is no different. The 41 year old, whose collaborations with Daft Punk and Robin Thicke earned him many honors at the GRAMMY Awards in Februrary, shared his story on CBS Sunday Morning yesterday. Pharrell was grateful to the many people in his life who inspired him to follow music: "My story is the average story, you know. It was filled with special people...What am I without them? Just try that for a second. Take all of my band teachers out of this. Where am I? I'm back in Virginia, doing something completely different." Click here for the full story, or watch a clip of the interview below.