Rochester-Area Schools: Exceling in Music

It’s nice to see something good about local schools that doesn’t involve sports. Jay-Mac is great, but I personally loathed jocks in the first place, as long as we in Rochester are discussing our traumatized educational pasts. . .

It turns out that many local high school districts have rated in the Top 100 Best Communities for Music Education in the last two years: West Irondequoit, Gates-Chili Schools, Rush-Henrietta, West Genesee and Pittsford schools.

American Music Conference

Carlsbad , Calif. (February 27, 2007) ? According to the results of the eighth annual “Best 100 Communities for Music Education” survey, repeat recipients of this prestigious distinction cite increased enrollment in and funding for school music programs. While music education has been linked to higher SAT scores, math grades and future success in life, the survey also found that many students hailing from a ‘Best 100’ community have continued their musical pursuits professionally as educators, or playing for renowned symphonies, opera houses, orchestras and on Broadway. Several former students have even become acclaimed recording artists, including Outkast, Bob Seeger, Iggy Pop, Tanya Tucker and Isaac Hayes.

Of course, it goes without saying that these schools are all suburban schools, with non of the accolades given to Rochester City Schools, specifically. But, if perhaps local communities found a way to build on this strength, we might all grow stronger.

We don’t need to hold hands to do it: when I attended Bloomfield Central Schools, the band was active in regional competitions. . . and I mean viciously active. It was the one thing in my life I ever felt genuinely competitive about.

But I don’t remember anything happening in Rochester or even Monroe County, though. One of the bloggers east of here could probably tell me where the Buckwheat Festival happens, and that was one competition for small-school bands. There was also the Gorham Pageant of Bands. (BTW, Bloomfield HS, 1989, thirteen out of thirteen first-place trophies, bay-bay!)

But am I wrong? There don’t seem to be any genuine local competitions that I can ever recall nor that I can find in a Google search. Shouldn’t the home of Eastman School and Hochstein and Lou Graham (No, man. He’s cool!) have a big-ass high-school band competition? Ensemble, Concert, Strings, Solo, Marching, Jazz?

Think how economical this kind of thing would be for the City of Rochester or the County of Monroe to pull off compared to all the fly-by-night ideas we’ve had in the past! And how good for everyone involved! It’s easier on the gas consumption for local bands to compete here; area gamesmanship would build skill, competition and camaraderie among area schools; the esteem of being the home of Eastman would increase local suburban kid’s respect for the city. The list goes on.

Best of all for urban youth, Rochester city kids would have something local to compete for that demonstrably contributes to their education. There’s nothing wrong with sports, and they build a certain degree of character as well. But you won’t blow your knee out playing oboe (unless you really, really suck!). You don’t need to be in the to 1% of musicians in the entire United States to have a career in music, and you don’t need to have a career in music to have something worth appreciating.

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By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.

3 replies on “Rochester-Area Schools: Exceling in Music”

The Buckwheat Festival in Penn Yan has been gone for several years. that was a great parade.

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