Recently, my husband and I were invited to present The James Webb Outstanding Percussion Award at the Showcase of Champions band contest. This band competition is a Florida Marching Band Coalition regional qualifier. It is hosted by Tate High School’s Showband of the South of which James was a member the last two years of his life. They named the percussion award in his memory. And, though I wasn’t sure about doing this award presentation again, four years after James’ death, I can say now that it was a good thing.
Music and, in some cases, sports programs, are feeling the pain of budget cuts in many (if not most!) school districts. The arguments that I have read or heard have little to do with music and sports. The justification is that there is limited money and what there is must go for “core subjects”. Limited funds is a problem. However, we manage taxes for other ‘non-essentials’! Music is essential!
“Instrumental and vocal music classes are often referred to as “extracurricular” classes. Music is anything but “extracurricular”. Music classes offer many benefits which make them very indispensable. Performance programs enhance a student’s sense of self esteem as well as their social skills. Students become a part of a positive group and organization. Not only do students profit socially from music programs, but they also gain academically.” —Children’s Music Workshop
There is the national overview. From a personal standpoint, all three of my children were involved in music which provided them with a circle of friends with common interest and who were high achievers with school as a priority in their lives. They maintained good grades in the core subjects because they wanted to be in music and participate in the activities that music provided. As a young man with a life-threatening illness, James had a group of friends who understood the concept of ‘team’ and the importance of supporting a team member under attack. From band directors to students to band boosters, James knew that he was of value when he could march and even later when he could not.
Protect the music programs of your local schools. Support the students that are learning more than songs. Support skills that will shape the future of our nation as young people absorb character-building habits that produce unity, commitment, and discipline. Music lasts not just for five minutes but for a lifetime.