The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) recognizes and celebrates Music in Our Schools Month (MiOSM) every March to spread information about the importance of music education in public schools. This year, Southern Huntingdon County High School/Middle School implemented a Music Spirit Week to show support for the music program at SHC.
“This year,” Trisha Stevens, the choir director at SHC stated, “SHC is celebrating in a bigger way, thanks to our new band director. He has been working hard alongside some of the high school music students to have a spirit week and a music display case near the office. Each year we have the freedom to celebrate in a new way, and I am excited to recognize the wonderful work our students do with music at SHC!”
Tyler Clewell, SHC’s band director, elaborated on the celebrations taking place this month. “Each day in the Music Spirit Week corresponds to a different theme related to music.”
Monday, students were encouraged to wear a shirt representing their favorite band, musician or musical. Tuesday was Rockstar Hair Day. Wednesday was Decade Day. On Thursday, students were encouraged to wear their best attire as if they were attending an opera. Some students went beyond and dressed as if they were in an opera. Friday, students wore blue and SHC apparel in support of Jarred Memmi, an SHC freshman recently diagnosed with cancer.
“We also put together a display in the hallway that demonstrates how music connects all subject areas within the school,” Clewell continued. “We are adding new things to the display each and every day! Every week during March, we plan to have a ‘Music Trivia Question of the Week’; the question appears on the daily announcements and students can submit answers for a prize. We are also hoping to have teacher karaoke competitions during lunch periods, as well as some performance opportunities throughout the school day.”
People who are not involved in music programs may not always understand why music education is so important. SHC’s Tri-M Music Honor Society chapter president Shayna Scott hopes to set the record straight.
“Through music, I have made some of the best friends anyone could ever ask for,” Scott began. “SHC’s music program has provided me with a safe environment to express myself, and when I am having a rough day, music makes my heart swell with joy and reminds me that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I have learned throughout the years that a love of music is the most common thread connecting people around the world.”
“Music education is so important because it changes the way we view the world,” Scott continued. “It inspires me to be kind to everyone I meet and look at the world as I do with a new piece of music — with an open mind.”
As for how music has impacted the music directors themselves?
“When I was in sixth grade, my music teacher invested in me and reminded me I can do anything if I put the work in and keep focused!” Stevens continued. “When I got to high school I had the privilege of participating in District and Regional Band and Chorus. These experiences gave me a bigger, better perspective of the way music shapes students, and I knew I wanted to be a part of this bigger picture.
“Music has changed my life and helped me become successful in so many areas; I want to give students the same experiences I had. Studies have shown that students who participate in ensembles have higher test scores, higher GPAs and higher IQs. I hope that one day, music education will be recognized alongside our core subjects,” shared Stevens.
Clewell reflected, “When I was in high school I loved music and mostly participated in band. It was what I looked forward to most every day. My band director, Mr. Philip Loewen, was an excellent teacher who was very influential in my decision to become a music educator. He shared his love of music with us daily and pushed us to become better musicians every time we picked up our instruments. I hope to inspire my students the same way.
“I teach because I love music! It is a crucial part of a child’s educational experience and teaches us multiple skills that are valuable in other aspects of life. Imagine a world without music, and you can see why music education is so important,” Clewell concluded.
Music in Our Schools Month is an often overlooked celebration, but music education should not be ignored. Music is an emotional and creative outlet that affects almost every aspect of our daily lives; why should we ignore such a crucial element of our humanity?