By Marc C. Whitt
There’s no more special time of year than the Holiday Season. Family, friends, food, music –did I mention food?—all make for warm, lasting memories. Even the hustle and bustle we experience preparing for and attending those seasonal band, choir and orchestra concerts; Thanksgiving Day and Christmas parades; and madrigal feasts and caroling add to the zest of the Season!
There’s just nothing like it!
For me, Thanksgiving serves as my trigger to slow down following a busy marching band season to reflect on those who have made music education possible for my children and those of my fellow music parents. It’s simply a time when I pause to count my many blessings.
Here are but a few of those things for which I am thankful. I’m sure many, if not all, are blessings to you, too.
First, I am thankful for school systems that support music education. My wife and I live in a community where music opportunities abound. Our son Jacob is a sophomore at Madison Central High School in Richmond, Kentucky, where he is encouraged each day to stretch his musical and academic muscles by participating in the marching and symphonic bands, and the madrigal singers. At the ripe age of 15, he has already experienced opportunities I could have never imagined when I was his age primarily because he attends a high school where the school system understands the connection and multiple benefits between academics and the music experience. They promote the STEAM experience and the proof is in the pudding. Many band and choir students go on to attend many of the nation’s finest public and private universities and excel, and for this, I am most thankful.
A friend of mine jokes that my wife and I selected our children’s schooling based on who had the most robust music program. That’s true. We did! The reason for that is clear as research shows that where you find a thriving music education program, you’ll also find academically superior students and school system administrators who are willing to nurture that.
Secondly, I am thankful for music educators who so deeply care for the children they teach. Music educators know no hours. They teach by day, craft their students’ performance skills after hours, serve as our children’s adopted parents while managing, organizing, recruiting, leading and directing bands, choirs and orchestras on a never ending cycle of rehearsals and concerts. Our children are most certainly the beneficiaries of the love, care, concern, attention and instruction they receive from their music teachers. Your child and mine should be eternally grateful to them.
Thirdly, I am thankful for communities that offer additional exposure and involvements in the performing arts. If your community supports a performing arts center; has a local or nearby college or university; sponsors a community arts series; or hosts a community band, choir or orchestra, please, by all means, take advantage by becoming engaged through your active involvement. And should none of these exist in your community, explore regional opportunities where such offerings are available. Your child and family will benefit from the experiences.
Lastly, I am thankful for music parents, like you, who freely give of their time and resources. Music parents are the backbone for a thriving school music program. We fundraise; repair equipment; organize special events; advocate and promote our school’s music program; cheerlead; encourage music directors and our children; provide taxi services to and from school music events; sew and clean; chaperone; cook and serve meals; load and unload; lift and push band instruments; attend numerous concerts, booster and boards of education meetings; purchase music instruments and sheet music; dine on several weeks’ worth of chili dogs, popcorn and nachos; share corny puns; and so much more. Music parents are simply the best around. They represent, in many ways, the characteristics we would like to see in all people. Music parents are joined together by their child’s love and involvement in music. Regardless of ethnic, gender, cultural, income or occupational differences, we are a community of one. We become the adopted parents for one another’s children and they benefit from that experience, too.
So oftentimes in life we focus on what we don’t have. I’m just as guilty.
But this Thanksgiving and Holiday Season, let’s take time to be truly thankful for what we do have. Let’s take inventory of the many blessings we have.
I encourage you to take time this season to thank those who have made the school music experience a special one for you and your child. If you do this, I guarantee you will truly experience thanksgiving in your heart.
From the AMP Family to yours, have a wonderful Thanksgiving and Holiday Season!