The Genesee Wyoming Music Educators’ Association celebrated “Music in Our Schools” month with the theme “music is the sound of my heart.”
To showcase and promote music in its schools – at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has largely silenced musical and theatrical performances – the association created a nearly 20-minute video with positive messages and dozens of pictures from all the association’s districts.
“While this year looks different and we can’t perform in our All County Ensembles, we are still making music,” said GWMEA President Stephanie Michalek, an instrumental music teacher at Attica Central School. “Music is a tool that we have to brighten our day, our mood, and share with others.”
Michalek encouraged people to “take a moment to reflect how ‘music is the sound of your heart.’”
“Music is a powerful statement that can resonate with me,” she said.
The association, in its video, expressed how proud it was of its students and all they have accomplished during the school year. “They have persevered and inspired their music educators,” the association said.
Districts featured in the video include Alexander, Attica, Batavia, Byron-Bergen, Elba, Le Roy, Notre Dame, Oakfield-Alabama, Pavilion, Pembroke and Wyoming.
Michalek, in the video, thanked teachers for their hard work, time and willingness to change the way they teach; students for sharing their passion for music with the teachers; and the community for their continued support of school music programs.
Many teachers expressed hope that they would again be able to have students performing before live audiences.
Nastassia Dotts, senior high band director at Le Roy, explained that “Music in Our Schools” month – which is observed each March – is a time to celebrate and recognize all of the students’ hard work in music throughout the school year.
“And this year is no different,” she said.
What was different is evident in the video’s still photographs and videos that show student musical ensembles practicing from socially-distanced positions in auditoriums and gymnasiums, and singing groups rehearsing in hallways. The methods of teach and learning have also been different with some students studying in school and others doing so remotely and learning how to play independently of other classmates.
Elba Central School music teachers Kayla Boedner and Chelsea Hoffert thanked their students “for rolling with the punches this year.”
From Le Roy, Matthew Nordhausen, who is director of the marching band and other roles, told the kids to “hang in there, things will only get better.”
Jane Paladino, chair of the music department at Batavia, said it was “an extremely challenging time this year, but I feel we in Batavia are doing the best we can to provide a wonderfully positive music experience for children.”
She encouraged students to “dig deep, keep practicing music, keep singing songs, and keep listening to music” and it will “help you get through this challenging time.”
“Music,” Paladino said, “is good for one’s emotional and intellectual health.”
ONLINE EXTRA: To view the music educators’ video, click this story at thedailynewsonline.com.