I am a firm believer that everyone has SOME musical talent or ability, whether they want to admit it or not. Unfortunately humans don’t always have (or take?) the chance (or have the nerve?) to use, enjoy and share that musical gift. While we do get to work with a lot of Band, Choir and Musical Theater students each year, there is also a pretty high number of students who attend JFHMS, and then move on to graduate from BHS without ever taking another music class after the fifth grade. This loss is frustrating to their elementary music teachers, and to their “could’ve been, should’ve been” music teachers in both middle and high school. I can honestly say that while I have never actually heard someone say, “I wish I hadn’t learned how to play the…” or “gosh I spent way too much time learning to sing”, over the years I have heard many folks say, “I wish I had kept playing my….”, “I miss Band/Choir so much”, and most often, “I should have never stopped…”. That one usually is shared twenty+ years after graduation, as their kid is signing up for a music class at the middle school.
Sometimes a high school student will stress themselves out by needlessly taking every academic class under the sun during their freshman, sophomore and junior years. Then they finally slide a music class or two into their relatively empty senior year schedule, just before they graduate. It’s a bittersweet victory when a high school senior fills up their final schedule with “fun classes”, and realizes what they have been missing by not being in Band, Choir and Musical before their final year. Unfortunately, just when they really start to “get it” in an ensemble, piano or guitar class, it’s time for graduation. We can only hope that they will continue to pursue their newfound joy after graduation, and those old roadblocks (or life) won’t get in the way again.
From the outside and especially in fifth grade, it may appear that the Music Department is for “just the talented people”, or even that there is a bit of a stigma associated with the people who participate in music classes. Neither of these things could be further from the truth; Band, Choir and Musical Theater programs are for EVERYONE who would like to give it a try! The JFH Band, Choir and Musical Theater programs each have members who are successful in both athletics and in music; each program has students with varying levels of experience from beginner to accomplished, and each has students with academic (and even language skills) at all levels. Students in financial need are welcome to use school owned Instruments; we even have concert clothing and theater costumes available, for members in need of support. Optional fundraisers offer students a chance to pay for their own instrument repairs or supplies, and even offer them the chance to participate on Fine Arts trips, payment free.
Some kids join our programs at the prompting of their friends–good peer pressure!!–even though they are absolutely convinced they have “unconquerable stage fright, and will NEVER be able to perform”. Their confidence always grows as they gain skill, and they end up having a blast. Those reluctant joiners often become some of our most active members and performers. Music Department kids learn to be great listeners (a trick of the trade), and are well aware of how their skill, actions and words can influence others. They are social and fun kids, who form friendships that extend far beyond the rehearsal room or stage. The Fine Arts kids hang out together both inside and outside of class, and encourage outside friends to get involved in the arts. They offer support to one another both in rehearsals, while competing together against other schools, and personally through a variety of life’s challenges. Sometimes it’s as simple as just showing up to cheer on friends involved in another activity or sport, or offering to tutor a friend in an academic subject, or simply just listening when someone needs to vent. For younger students, having buddies with common interests who are in older grade levels can really help them to navigate the change from one grade level to another–this is especially helpful with the transitions between elementary and middle school, and middle school to high school. The Music Department is a great place to find a ready made support group of friends and peers! Whether you have selected classes for next year already or not, remember – you can always join a Music class, since Band, Choir and Musical Theater are NEVER full. Call your school and change that schedule, gain a new skill boost your confidence and have an adventure. Questions? Stop by and see the Music teachers in your school, and they will hook you up!