WHO is “Behind the Voices” of the Colorado Children’s Chorale? This answer may surprise you, but for me, it is easy to answer—school music educators. Although the Chorale’s mission focuses on presenting artistically excellent professional choral concerts, we recognize that our members would not know about the Chorale if it weren’t for their school music teachers. Before their first audition, many Chorale members learn how to read quarter notes, sing in a head voice, and clap rhythms from their school music teachers. Furthermore, not one of the four Chorale conductors would be in the music profession without the support and inspiration of a music educator.
The music educator that most influenced my life was my school band director. Gordon Dyer taught fifth through twelfth grade band in a small Iowa school district for 30+ years. At the end of his teaching career, the school’s band trophy case (incidentally, much larger than the athletic trophy case) was bursting at the seams. However, if you were to ask any of his former students what they remember about band, they will gloss over the trophies and tell you a story about Mr. Dyer and how participating in music positively influenced them, empowering them with the life skills necessary to be successful. The conversation will most likely end by reciting one of his famous quotes, “Life’s short, play loud!”
Last weekend general music teachers, choral directors, band directors and orchestra directors from across Colorado met for the annual Colorado Music Educators Clinic/Conference in Colorado Springs. This highly attended conference connects music educators on a yearly basis to collaborate by sharing lesson plans, techniques, repertoire suggestions, successes, and even frustrations. School budget cuts and lack of arts support is a constant frustration of our music educators.
So why support music in our schools? Research proves that music education increases SAT scores, lowers dropout rates, and benefits the brain. Gordon Dyer and other music educators know through experience that learning to sing in a choir or play an instrument in a band develops essential life skills such as self-confidence, personal responsibility, self direction, accountability, adaptability, and social responsibility. How? Performing with a choir or band is an active learning experience. Students who perform in a choir or band actively set goals (performances/competitions), work diligently as a team to attain goals, and gain self-confidence when they achieve their goals. Throughout the whole process, choir and band students learn how to take risks in order to achieve their full potential. And, sometimes they fail, but as Mr. Dyer would say, “Never give up, no matter what.”
Now more than ever as our school districts anticipate further budget cuts, we will continue to support our school music programs. We hope that you will, too!