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Music and arts help improve test scores

I read with some dismay The News report of the gutting of music programs in Buffalo Public Schools. This really hit home on June 15 as I and several hundred other people were inspired by the festival of chorale music at St. Joseph’s Cathedral downtown. The festival brought together four of the area’s strongest musical choirs and organizations, including the well-known Harmonia Chamber Singers, the newly formed Buffalo Master Chorale and St. Joseph and St. Louis church choirs. The meditative power of the combined choirs singing “Alleluia” and the intense combination of the choirs and organ in “Dona Nobis Pacem” certainly made for an astounding evening.

But for me it was more. It was the vision for musical collaboration, for the involvement of youth and for the possibilities of Doreen Rao’s “Buffalo Sings” that inspired me. Research continues to show that test scores rise with student involvement in music and the arts. If better test scores are what some in the educational community desire, then there must be a more compelling vision for the education of students. I, as well as many thousands of other educators, have spent years shifting through test data to enhance student performance. However, this data analysis and the exhausting discussion of testing could never inspire my teaching as much as power of vision I heard and saw on Saturday night. Rao has loads of experience creating youth and children’s choirs. Maybe the State Department of Education could consult with her to recapture the vision for truly educated students.

Robert Tyrrell

BPS Chemistry Teacher

Grand Island