Today, students and teachers across the Capital Region and upstate New York head back to school. The new school year brings with it new hopes, new goals, and new opportunities to grow. For many young musicians, the first day of school marks a return to rehearsals, both at school and with Empire State Youth Orchestra.
After three turbulent school years for music teachers and young musicians, the chance to return to their school orchestra or band brings an elevated sense of joy. As a community, we cannot discount the impact COVID has had on young musicians and their school music programs. For the better part of two years, school districts postponed concerts. When many school districts went to hybrid instruction, instrument lessons weren't part of a daily school routine. For elementary school students, this meant a delay or interruption in learning their musical instrument for the first time. Perhaps what COVID-19 impacted the most was the sense of community that comes from sounding together on stage and the collective feeling of success when you master a piece together. Middle school band teacher and ESYO conductor Julie Taylor said, "With music, you really need the community. It gives something for students to work towards. It helps them feel successful and comfortable. You can’t have one without the other.”
This school year marks the return to a normalized school day, especially for student musicians and music teachers. Over the next few weeks, a new group of students will find their passion in playing an instrument for the first time. Returning musicians will find themselves challenged by the music they make and not the added restrictions. Student musicians of all ages and abilities will again join together to make memories and build lasting friendships through music.
Here are three ways you can support local music teachers and student musicians in your neighborhood:
- Write a letter or an email to your school principal, superintendent, or school board members. Share with them your excitement for the full return of your school's music program.
- Attend a school concert in your neighborhood, where many of the great musicians in the area are nurtured.
- Encourage young people in your family and neighborhood to freely explore the world of music and learn a musical instrument at school.
ESYO would like to wish all music teachers and student musicians a safe and happy school year. We cannot wait to hear where the music will take you!