- Watershed School
Music Education in 2022-23 | March 4, 2022
A letter from the Chief School Administrator:
As we move through the budget process, there is a lot of information and moving parts. I wanted to take some time to share more about the plan for music education in our district, specifically elementary and middle school.
In the proposed budget for next year, music education will continue to be offered in kindergarten through grade 12 across the district.
The current model for elementary school music instruction is a general music teacher instructs students full time, and three itinerant teachers - educators who travel from school to school - teach orchestra and band to 5th and 6th graders on a limited schedule. On average, students receive 30 minutes of instrumental instruction twice a week, depending on when holidays, school breaks, and student absences fall. Due to the nature of the itinerant instruction, students may be pulled out of their classroom while academic instruction is happening.
Further impacting student instrumental music instruction, there have been several mid-year resignations leading to vacancies which have proven to be hard to fill.
To offer quality music education across the district, in collaboration with our music teachers, we’re proposing a new model that will shift the itinerant instrumental music teachers to middle school, where they will be able to reach students in grades 6-8. They will no longer be traveling teachers going from school to school, but full-time at the school where they are assigned.
Elementary students, grades K-5, will continue to receive general music education that will prepare them for the opportunity to learn instrumental music in 6th grade. Elementary general music education provides an excellent foundation for instrumental music by introducing students to rhythm, note reading, recorders, drums, ukuleles, choral music, and even body percussion. In this proposed plan, 5th graders will be the only grade at the elementary level impacted by the new model. If state funding is restored in a way that supports public education, our district hopes to be able to rebuild an instrumental music program in elementary schools.
Over the years it has become increasingly difficult to offer a full range of music electives in middle and high school due to reduced student enrollment, which leads to reduced staffing.
In middle school, the addition of 6th grade means that elective offerings will grow and students may have the opportunity to choose more than one elective. Students who select band or orchestra as one of their electives will access instrumental music on a consistent basis as part of their regular schedule. It will be possible for a student to have music, all year, for three full years prior to advancing to high school.
I strongly believe that the new model of music instruction will provide a robust feeder program that prepares students to continue their music instruction from elementary school to middle school to high school. This is our opportunity to build a strong K-12 music program that grows with our students.
In recognition of Music in Our Schools Month, I want to thank the many students, staff, graduates, families, and community members who have shared how important music has been to their education and their lives. The Board of Education will continue to work through the budget process and their meeting schedule is available on the district website.
All the best,
Karen Melin, Chief School Administrator