Have you ever stopped and imagined a world without music? A silent place without the sounds of birdsong, beautiful melodies, lush harmonies, or even the chromatic soundscapes that stretch our ears? As we look back over the past twelve months, it's easy to see how close we came to realize this imagined place. Never before in recent memory were concert halls shuttered and school music programs paused. Even as programs and concerts pivoted online, many still felt the silence.
Sure, we do not need music to feed bodies, but we need it to feed our souls. Music brightens the day, uplifts our spirit, nourishes our creative minds, and develops the brain. Music teaches us to listen more and talk less and can help create better citizens. Music can also provoke and inspire us to create a better world. School music programs are essential!
ESYO String Orchestra Conductor, Joseph Gumpper said it best. Take a listen!
This month, in communities across the nation, music teachers, young musicians, parents, and advocates for school music programs celebrate Music in Our Schools Month. Following an "anything but a normal year," we are more keenly aware of the value music programs bring to school communities and the world-at-large. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic one year ago, music teachers have been at the forefront of researching and developing safety protocols that allowed many school districts to return to in-person rehearsals. ESYO owes a great deal to our school music partners who shared their findings, which helped ESYO restart this fall. With COVID-19 restrictions still in place and many school music programs in the area on pause, Music In Our Schools Month is more important today than ever before. We hope that we, as a community, are even more aware of how important music is to our lives and wellbeing. Music, especially during a global health crisis, is the sound of our hearts.
ESYO believes that music has the power to bring joy to the lives of young musicians and those who stop and listen. Nurtured by a school music teacher, this joy begins in school. From the first note in elementary school to the final applause at a senior concert, music teachers empower young people to exercise their imagination, dream big, and use their voice while developing a life-long love of music-making. For many ESYO musicians, their school music teacher brought them to the rehearsal door, helped them prepare for their ESYO audition, and celebrated when they passed their first audition. ESYO owes a great deal of gratitude to the front-line school music teachers in the Capital Region.
School music programs are investments in our community and its quality of life. It is more than an extra-curricular activity. A young person does not need to become a professional musician to benefit from a healthy and robust music education program. Music education is education. By supporting school music programs, we teach our children about the world and how we interact and communicate with each other. We teach our children to use their creative minds to solve problems. We teach determination, focused discipline, and the value of self-expression. We give young people the tools they need to excel in the 21st century. Most importantly, we empower a new generation of music-makers who bring joy to our community and the lives of others.
How can you support local school music programs? ESYO musicians come to their first rehearsal with a deep love for music and their instrument. This love is first supported and nurtured by a school music teacher. You can best support school music programs by encouraging a young person in your life to freely explore music in school. Show young musicians that their musical voice is valued and attend school concerts and performances. Lastly, make sure school leaders in your community understand the value of school music programs.