It’s one of those school problems that comes up every few years. Much to the dismay of teachers and administrators, but mostly students and parents, there’s often some tumult regarding music programs.
So, when an article appeared last week in the Landmark about Riverside-Brookfield High School’s music program staffing, it brought back memories. Unfortunately, music seems to be the program that gets affected often. I know during my eight years on the District 208 school board, it was often a subject of discussion.
I am pro-music in schools. Music was part of my life when growing up. My brother and I each took piano lessons and music in high school. My brother came home with a French horn. I guess it was the only instrument left. Surprisingly, it didn’t last long.
At Nazareth Academy, where I went, you took either choir or band. I tried out for percussion, but Carolyn Dittman beat me out. So, I joined the choir and a beautiful friendship began.
The piano is still in our home and our daughter took lessons. Our grandchildren also played instruments with one granddaughter even going on to Michigan State University and earning a degree in music education. All the interest in music on the part of my grandchildren was fostered by the music teachers at RB.
When it comes to maintaining a strong music program, it has sometimes been a battle. The resignation or retirement of a teacher has caused problems, but after strong discussion by those concerned, the program was always brought to full strength.
COVID-19 played havoc on the program since much of the music program depends on interaction. The Music Sponsors, students and faculty do great work, but the school board plans to cut teacher Kayley Smetana’s role to just one class. It has been my understanding that she has been a factor in rebuilding the several programs.
One of the things I learned while on the board concerning music students is they tend to be strong students overall — not something to be easily dismissed.
Normally, I don’t give opinions, although I am opinionated, but this one struck me. School boards have always worked to keep good teachers, and I think this is one of those times. So, I hope a good ending will be in store.
If you have never experienced a music program at RB, you should seek out those enjoyable events.
There is a phrase I like to use at an appropriate time: “Without music, the world would B flat.”