Music is powerful; music is life-changing; music is universal; music is intriguing.
Music is on the chopping block at Clarence High School.
If a proposed tax increase of 9.8 percent fails to pass at Tuesday’s budget vote, serious cuts will be made to the school’s budget – cuts that cannot be taken out of state-mandated courses. This means that, should the budget fail, the future for Clarence High School’s music department looks bleak.
The significance of musical education in schools should not be overlooked. According to professor Norman M. Weinberger in Psychology Today, practicing music in the long term can reward students with increases in creativity, reasoning and language and social skills, increasing productivity in many areas of the brain.
“Being in the music department at CHS has prepared me with the people skills I will need later in life,” said Ashley Moulin, a senior who currently sings in two of the three choruses at Clarence and plans on majoring in theater in college. “Listening, thinking and sharing opinions is something we need daily in chorus.”
In addition to promoting cohesion and cooperation, music classes can provide a haven where kids feel like they belong, something that is imperative during the turbulent and emotional years of middle and high school.
Junior Lillia Woodbury, a flute player in Clarence’s symphonic band, feels most at home playing her instrument or organizing props for the school musical.
“The music department is where I fit in throughout high school and without that, I might not have ever fit in anywhere,” Lillia said.
Many students agree that musical ensembles are like a second home or family. Similarly, music provides an opportunity for students to relieve some of the stress they are confronted with on a daily basis.
“If there was no music program, I’m not sure if I would be able to handle school and all of the stress that goes along with it,” Lillia said.
Perhaps most important is the sense of identity that accompanies participation in a music class.
“Music is a part of my life,” says sophomore Josh Wilde, who has sung in chorale and starred in both musicals since he has been a student at Clarence High School. “It’s essential to being human and expressing yourself.”
Ashley agrees. “Without music, I have no idea who I would be,” she said.
Many of the more than 1,700 students at Clarence High School would be devastated by the loss of the music department, and even more by the loss of other popular electives. Some students are taking an active role in trying to get the budget to pass, hoping to save the school not only for themselves, but for younger siblings and other children, who would be affected the most.
“I don’t want to see this school and district lose its integrity and legacy, because it has taken hard work, sacrifice and love for this district to get where it has gotten,” Josh said.
It’s tough for kids to imagine a school without music, and concern for the music department’s future has driven a handful of students to do everything possible to raise awareness for the cause, hoping that it will be enough.
“We’re not trying to be selfish, we’re just trying to save what we love,” says Lillia. “We just want to save our school.”
Sarah Probst is a junior at Clarence High School.