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Cuts To Band Should Be Reversed Before Permanent Damage Is Inflicted

Letter to the Editor of the North Mississippi Herald and to concerned parents and citizens of the Water Valley School System:


It has just recently come to my attention that the band program at the school has been eviscerated by an anti-music superintendent and a bamboozled school board. I would like to note that at one time, the staff consisted of two full-time band directors and a full-time certified choral director. Now the music staff consists of one band director whose 6th grade band program has just been deleted and who has the following schedule:


 1st period—7th grade band—a band course

  2nd period—Dual enrollment College Music Appreciation—non-band

  And how many students  is this expected to serve?

  3rd period— Planning for his six preparations

  4th period—ACT Test Prep—non-band

  5th period—High School Band—a band course

  6th period—General music—a non-band course

  7th period—Study Skills—a non-band course


You will notice that he will only have two periods to instruct the few band students now left. How long will this cut affect the music program? 

Six years. Division Director of Fine Arts at Northwest Mississippi Community College, John Mixon, noted that it would be impossible for beginners not starting in the 6th grade to be able to march with the high school band in the 8th grade. He added that it would be a great disservice to the students and parents to expect that to take place. This will then have an effect like falling dominoes in subsequent years. 


Contrary to the “poor me,” we are losing funding left and right and can’t afford this” raving of the superintendent, reinserting the 6th grade band program would cost no more money as there is already a salary designated for the band director and a simple revamping of one period of his schedule would solve the problem.


After 28 years of teaching, some of which was here in Water Valley, and many times here that I was, on my own time, supporting the band program either as majorette coach, accompanist to students at contest, or accompanist to the band director’s stage band (Yes, there was once a stage band playing popular music in addition to the marching and concert bands), I remain a strong supporter of the music program in the schools. Way back in the Middle Ages, when I was in third grade, I was given drum lessons by the band director. In Junior High, we had public school music, where we learned to sing (what a fun time!) and there was always a piano teacher in the school who gave lessons during school hours. How have we fallen away from such love of the arts? I encourage all concerned to discuss this with their school board members before permanent damage is continued.


Most sincerely,

Sara Nell Trusty Champion

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