Education column: Music touches students’ lives

Last Friday, while walking down the hall at Marshall Middle School, I heard beautiful music coming from the auditorium. Catching a glimpse of Keith Sacane, middle school band director — dapper in tux — heading inside, I peeked to see what was happening.

A special event was under way, the "Southeast New Mexico Music Educators Association Large Group Contest," an event in which we have participated for many years. Bands and choirs from the eastern and southeastern region of New Mexico come together to compete and see how well they've learned what they were intended to learn throughout the year. Bill Allred, Clovis High School band director offered, "We call it the 'concert and sight-reading' contest, and it's a high-pressure event for students. These kids have invested a lot of time, working before school and after school, attending clinics and rehearsals. This is the second year in a row that all of our bands received superior ratings."

Working with Hobbs to host this important event, Clovis held the band competitions at Marshall Auditorium, and the choirs gathered in Hobbs to perform. Alan Dropps, director of music education for the district explained how it worked: "This year we hosted the bands and Hobbs hosted the choirs. Each year we flip-flop, so it'll be the opposite next year. This very important festival lets us know exactly where we are with the skills and knowledge that have been taught throughout the year. Expectations are very high for Clovis students, but they continue to meet those standards." Out of the highly coveted 20 sweepstakes awards, 16 went to Clovis groups.

Among the approximately 2,000 students who participated, it's no surprise that the Clovis students excelled and swept up so many awards. Allred attributes our success to the incredible support of the school district over the years, as well as the important groundwork laid by our elementary music teachers. Allred also shared the good news that participation continues to grow, for example, from the amazing choir at Marshall Middle School under the guidance of Lori Riggins, to the increasing numbers of the CHS Marching Band, which will be up to about 240 students next year.

This exceptionally strong music tradition in the Clovis schools that continues to grow and excel can also be attributed to the strong leadership from which we have benefited over the years, including the talent and dedication of past leadership, from the talented Wayne Anderson to the towering influence of Norvil Howell.

Research clearly shows the benefits of music education to academics, but perhaps of equal importance are those lessons of character, such as virtue, perseverance, dedication that are so intrinsic to the demands of music education.

Searching for an inspiring quote I stumbled upon a perfect representation in the form of an article written by Seattle Times journalist, Jerry Large, once a band student in Clovis, called "Lessons in Goodness," which can be found at community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20040708&slug=jdl08.

A worthy read, and if you're unable to retrieve it, shoot me an email, and I'll mail you a copy.

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the instructional technology coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at www.idodi.cindy.kleyn-kennedy@clovis-schools.org

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