By Edith Morgan
“’Tis the season” for all sorts of music everywhere and performances by one and all – for free or with tickets!
So this is a good time to see what our Worcester Public Schools students are up to in music. We hear so much about the pressure of test-taking, the constant drill to get the answers right, to exceed last year’s scores, become more and more adept at picking out the desired answers on paper and pencil tests …
So it was with great anticipation that I went to the Worcester Public Schools’ Administration building on Irving Street and met with Lisa Leach, the city-wide music liaison, to find out if, amid all the cuts in recent years, the City of Worcester still had a robust and viable music program in all our grades. Since there is not a way to test music in multiple choice questions, and since there are those who do not consider the arts as worth funding, I was afraid that they had been given short shrift in this increasingly short-sighted society.
So I was truly overjoyed to hear Lisa Leach describe all that was going on – and happy to publicize the efforts of so many people working to ensure that there is music in our children’s lives. My 500-word column is not sufficient to name all that is going on! So if I omit something, it was not intentional!
All students in the Worcester Public Schools, grades k-6, get 40 minutes weekly instruction in their classrooms; most grade 3 and 4 students get instrumental instruction, some only strings – in small groups. The Burncoat quadrant schools emphasize instruction through the arts and add dance and drama to their curricula.
At this time of the year especially, there are innumerable performances involving students from all schools, at ALL grades.
To name a few:
Burncoat Senior High School and Doherty Senior High School have choruses
There is a barbershop quartet at North High School
There is songwriting and contemporary music at North High School
and “music technology”
And, of course, every one of our city schools has in-house holiday programs for parents and neighbors.
The community pitches in, and there are great partnerships and cooperations involved in music in Worcester. When I went to see Lisa Leach her office was almost impassable, piled high with recently donated musical instruments of many kinds, waiting to be cleaned and repaired where needed, as many students can not afford their own instruments.
WEDF, the Worcester Educational Foundation, raises money, among other things, for repairing musical instruments, field trips, concerts, scholarships and instructional materials. WICN puts on public service announcements asking listeners to donate instruments; the Worcester Chamber Music Society sponsors Neighborhood Strings, a violin instruction program at Woodland Academy; Music Worcester offers master classes and free tickets for our high school students; the Alden Trust sends all 4th grade students to a concert at Mechanics Hall; the In my own neighborhood the Joy of Music Program provides scholarships and instruction in all areas of music.
There are so many more programs! I have no space left to mention them all! But if you are interested, you can download videos on the Worcester Public Schools website and watch the educational channel – what was channel 11 and is now channel 191, where you can often catch performances of our children.
But above all: Support, contribute funds or instruments, and encourage the love and joy of music in our children in every way possible!
Music is, after all, the universal language!