CHELMSFORD – In a normal school year, the town’s school system is alive with the sound of music thanks to its nationally and internationally recognized music program, which received recent commitment to its work.
威尼斯飞艇在线计划Although things have changed in the last few months, for the eighth year in a row the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation has designated Chelmsford Public Schools as one of the Best Communities for Music Education.
威尼斯飞艇在线计划The key to the town’s success is “music programs that are robust, a highly qualified and super enthusiastic faculty and really amazing community support and family engagement,” according to Christy Whittlesey, the School Department’s Fine and Performing Arts Department Coordinator.
“This combination (of characteristics) has allowed our programs to thrive,” Whittlesey says.
威尼斯飞艇在线计划To receive the award Chelmsford faculty completed a survey about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. Responses were reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.
威尼斯飞艇在线计划Music and art education is part of the core curriculum from preschool to grade 12. Music instruction begins in the early grades and expands in grade 4 and continues as a regular part of student learning through grade 6. After grade 6 “many students still engage in music” because Chelmsford requires credits in music and fine arts for graduation, according to Whittlesey.
While some school systems focus heavily on science, technology, engineering and math programs, Whittlesey says, “I’m a proponent of STEAM.” Many of the students in her program are also “brilliant scientists and mathematicians.”
威尼斯飞艇在线计划Sachi Badola, a rising junior at Chelmsford High School, is one of those students. A member of Tri-M, the national music honor society, says, “When I graduate high school, I would love to go to college and double major in a STEM field and music.” She mentioned neuroscience as one possible component of that double major.
威尼斯飞艇在线计划“Music is so important in my life, and getting to sing and perform with others who share that same love has been a highlight of high school for me. I am lucky to be a part of the treble a cappella group, the Crescendos, directed by the wonderful music teacher and choral Director Amanda Roeder,” Badola says.
She was a member of the high school chorus in her freshman year, but her sophomore schedule did not permit that. She’s hoping her schedule will allow it again as a junior.
威尼斯飞艇在线计划Roeder directs the CHS choir, two a cappella groups, grade 5 band, and is co-director of the annual musical. Last year one of the groups under her direction won best ensemble in the International Championship of High School A Cappella competition.
Badola says Chelmsford’s program is about more than learning music. She’s learned some important life lessons, too. “I’ve learned to be resilient,” she says, explaining that music groups often compete and “It doesn’t always go the way we’d like. So we keep our heads up high and focus on the music.”
威尼斯飞艇在线计划Whittlesey says that the music program also teaches life skills of “listening, collaborating and communicating.”
Roeder talks about the “ wonderful relationships, opportunities for collaboration” that Chelmsford’s music program provides. The quality of the music program was what tempted her to leave a job on the North Shore and undertake a one-hour (each way) commute. “When I heard about this opening, I jumped on it. I wouldn’t have left my previous job for just any job.”
威尼斯飞艇在线计划“My favorite thing is the deep sense of community, reflected at all levels. My colleagues are wonderful, wonderful people. The students recognize that community and model it back to us.”
Current events have forced some changes in how music is taught and learned, the women agree.
威尼斯飞艇在线计划With the help of Google Classroom and other tools, “We’re finding new ways to encourage music-making,” Whittlsey says. Students are experimenting with improvising and composition. Some are creating their own digital remix.
Roeder finds challenges because her work is largely with ensembles. “It’s hard not to be together. But the upside is that it allows for individualized instructions.”
威尼斯飞艇在线计划All are looking forward to September with the hope that the COVID-19 scourge is eliminated and the town’s students can make music again together.