Bravo to the cast, crew and musicians of 42nd Street for a wonderful production. It was an exciting, polished showcase for the extraordinary talent of the students of Webutuck.
Fifty students participated in the musical. They practiced for months, learning their lines, songs, and tap dancing. That didn’t happen by accident, but because of the dedication of the music teachers, Nancy Gagne, Jay Bradley, Eric Weiner, and Lee Stowe.
Now, once again, the Board of Education is planning to eliminate the part-time Vocal Music position held by Mr. Stowe. What they will lose far outweighs any amount they will save. Mr. Stowe makes students believe that they can get up and sing in front of an audience, and he gives them the vocal training to back it up. Further, he is a skilled pianist who accompanies the students in rehearsal.
Eliminating the position will drastically impact the entire music program. I was in the back of the band room last week ironing costumes as Mr. Bradley was conducting drum lessons for three different groups in three successive periods. The first was a beginner class, the second a senior high student, and the third a middle school group. His instruction differed in each class, but the focus was clearly on the individual students and how they could improve. The Board seems to think that all drum lessons should be given together, or even than one would put different instruments, like the flute and the trumpet, together in the same lesson. That is like telling a math teacher that he will teach Algebra I and Calculus to eighth graders and seniors in the same class period. They may say that won’t happen, but if they eliminate the position, it will have to.
Music and art are integral parts of a quality education. The music program has produced graduates who have become professional musicians, but more importantly, it has given others an appreciation and a love of music that can sustain them through a lifetime.
This program works: it would be a travesty for the Board to unravel it.