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Local News

Local school districts participate in effort to raise awareness for music education

Local districts help raise awareness for music education

Groups of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders excitedly filed into the multipurpose room at Kaneland Blackberry Creek Elementary School on a recent Friday morning. The children got quiet as the special guests from Da Capo Music Studio in Elburn started to talk.

Da Capo co-owner Ben Westfall explained to the kids that Da Capo “means from the beginning,” and he and fellow co-owner Kristin Paxinos started playing – Westfall on guitar and Paxinos on the flute and piano. Between songs, Westfall shared jokes with the students, such as one leading into a song from the movie “Up.”

“Did you hear that they have a sequel coming out? It’s called ‘Down,’ ” Westfall said with a smile. “That’s not true.”

The appearance was held as part of Music In Our Schools Month, which takes place each March. According to the National Association for Music Education website, the celebration started in 1973 in New York and became a month-long observation in 1985.

The website stated the purpose “is to raise awareness of the importance of music education for all children – and to remind citizens that school is where all children should have access to music.”

Those at individual schools can decide how, or whether, to participate.

At Rotolo Middle School in Batavia, band director Keith Ozsvath has scheduled Music In Our Schools Month concerts for the sixth-grade band and the seventh- and eighth-grade band.

Ozsvath said there are more than 350 students in the band program at Rotolo.

Adding together the band, chorus and orchestra, he said there are more than 600 kids participating in music programs.

“Band and chorus really seem to be well-supported by our administrators and especially our community,” Ozsvath said, adding those in the district “have done a nice job of creating a culture of enjoying music. I think parents really see the value, and the kids see the value in participating in a really great music program.”

In St. Charles, the annual P-ARTS Variety Show, which stands for People for the Arts, provides an opportunity for students in St. Charles District 303 to perform in front of an audience.

In addition, the St. Charles Arts Council’s annual nExt Gallery Student Art Show does the same for visual arts. It is open through March 27 at a pop-up gallery at 11 E. Main St. in St. Charles.

Diane Handler, who has helped run the variety show, wrote in an email that the show “is intentionally connected to Music In Our Schools Month to highlight the importance of including music and the arts in the K-12 curricula and offering music/arts programming and lessons to students.”

Becky Blaine, a P-ARTS board member, said the variety show has been going on for 13 years. She said St. Charles has been supportive of the arts, and the event has enjoyed tremendous support and participation.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to have exposure to the arts and to perform,” Blaine said.

At Kaneland Blackberry Creek Elementary, music teacher Brandon Fox said Westfall and Paxinos approached the school about putting on an event affiliated with Music In Our Schools Month.

He said there are other performances at the school during the month, such as a singing performance by third-graders at the school’s open house event.

Fox said the goal isn’t necessarily about helping students consider the pursuit of careers in music.

“I know not every student I teach is going to be a professional musician,” Fox said. “That’s an illusion that not many music teachers have.”

Instead, he said, participation in music programs can improve critical thinking skills and self-discipline. He said kids who normally are shy can gain confidence.

Westfall said music is important, and not only for those who want to make it a career.

“People don’t think, ‘Well, we don’t need science, he isn’t going to be a scientist,’ or ‘We don’t need that math stuff, he’s not going to be a mathematician,’ ” Westfall said. “It helps you develop as a person.”

Handler wrote that studies can show benefits of music, but there is value beyond that.

“Music and the arts are also important for their intrinsic benefits, irrespective of test scores, because it is a unique way of understanding and expressing the world,” she wrote. “There are some truths about life that can only be communicated as songs, stories, movement or images. The arts and music voice our emotions.”

On the Web

Visit KCChronicle.com to view a video of a Music In Our Schools celebration at Blackberry Creek Elementary School.

Groups of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders excitedly filed into the multipurpose room at Kaneland Blackberry Creek Elementary School on a recent Friday morning. The children got quiet as the special guests from Da Capo Music Studio in Elburn started to talk.

Da Capo co-owner Ben Westfall explained to the kids that Da Capo “means from the beginning,” and he and fellow co-owner Kristin Paxinos started playing – Westfall on guitar and Paxinos on the flute and piano. Between songs, Westfall shared jokes with the students, such as one leading into a song from the movie “Up.”

“Did you hear that they have a sequel coming out? It’s called ‘Down,’ ” Westfall said with a smile. “That’s not true.”

The appearance was held as part of Music In Our Schools Month, which takes place each March. According to the National Association for Music Education website, the celebration started in 1973 in New York and became a month-long observation in 1985.

The website stated the purpose “is to raise awareness of the importance of music education for all children – and to remind citizens that school is where all children should have access to music.”

Those at individual schools can decide how, or whether, to participate.

At Rotolo Middle School in Batavia, band director Keith Ozsvath has scheduled Music In Our Schools Month concerts for the sixth-grade band and the seventh- and eighth-grade band.

Ozsvath said there are more than 350 students in the band program at Rotolo.

Adding together the band, chorus and orchestra, he said there are more than 600 kids participating in music programs.

“Band and chorus really seem to be well-supported by our administrators and especially our community,” Ozsvath said, adding those in the district “have done a nice job of creating a culture of enjoying music. I think parents really see the value, and the kids see the value in participating in a really great music program.”

In St. Charles, the annual P-ARTS Variety Show, which stands for People for the Arts, provides an opportunity for students in St. Charles District 303 to perform in front of an audience.

In addition, the St. Charles Arts Council’s annual nExt Gallery Student Art Show does the same for visual arts. It is open through March 27 at a pop-up gallery at 11 E. Main St. in St. Charles.

Diane Handler, who has helped run the variety show, wrote in an email that the show “is intentionally connected to Music In Our Schools Month to highlight the importance of including music and the arts in the K-12 curricula and offering music/arts programming and lessons to students.”

Becky Blaine, a P-ARTS board member, said the variety show has been going on for 13 years. She said St. Charles has been supportive of the arts, and the event has enjoyed tremendous support and participation.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to have exposure to the arts and to perform,” Blaine said.

At Kaneland Blackberry Creek Elementary, music teacher Brandon Fox said Westfall and Paxinos approached the school about putting on an event affiliated with Music In Our Schools Month.

He said there are other performances at the school during the month, such as a singing performance by third-graders at the school’s open house event.

Fox said the goal isn’t necessarily about helping students consider the pursuit of careers in music.

“I know not every student I teach is going to be a professional musician,” Fox said. “That’s an illusion that not many music teachers have.”

Instead, he said, participation in music programs can improve critical thinking skills and self-discipline. He said kids who normally are shy can gain confidence.

Westfall said music is important, and not only for those who want to make it a career.

“People don’t think, ‘Well, we don’t need science, he isn’t going to be a scientist,’ or ‘We don’t need that math stuff, he’s not going to be a mathematician,’ ” Westfall said. “It helps you develop as a person.”

Handler wrote that studies can show benefits of music, but there is value beyond that.

“Music and the arts are also important for their intrinsic benefits, irrespective of test scores, because it is a unique way of understanding and expressing the world,” she wrote. “There are some truths about life that can only be communicated as songs, stories, movement or images. The arts and music voice our emotions.”

On the Web

Visit KCChronicle.com to view a video of a Music In Our Schools celebration at Blackberry Creek Elementary School.

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