"The Jamestown Public Schools has a rich heritage and tradition in music education," said Choral Director Norman Lydell. "Since the establishment of performing ensembles over 100 years ago, we continue that tradition with our students today. There is an expectation by the Jamestown community that we provide our students a variety of musical experiences and quality performing ensembles that continue the JPS tradition of excellence in music and that is our goal at Jamestown High School."
MUSIC TRADITION AT JHS
Jamestown Public Schools, which began in 1867, has a long tradition of excellence in education. The Jamestown High School music program currently run by choral director Norman Lydell, band director Meghan Bolling-Murray (both JHS alumni) and orchestra director Katie Derrenbacher exemplifies that tradition of excellence.
Jamestown High School french horn players Tyler Fairbanks, Morgan Deppas and Simon Liuzzo practice during Concert Band.
While the earliest record of instrumental music instruction dates back to piano instruction in 1888, organized ensembles began in the Jamestown Schools in 1908. At that time, the mandolin club was organized as the JHS Orchestra with Professor Frederic Bottsford as the conductor.
In 1924, the JHS A Cappella Choir directed by Ebba H. Goranson and the Jamestown High School Band program directed by Arthur Goranson began. Music has always been an important part of a student's well-balanced education and today, Jamestown High School students benefit from the availability of 11 performance groups: A Cappella Choir, Mixed Chorus, Girls' Chorus, Madrigal Singers, Ladies of Today and Men of Tomorrow, Marching Band, Concert Band, Symphonic Band, String Orchestra, Full Orchestra, and the JHS String Quartet. Over 300 JHS students participate in one or more of the JHS music performance groups.
"Music adds a whole other element to learning," said freshman Kirstie Hanson, who is a member of full orchestra and string orchestra playing violin, concert Band playing oboe and marching band playing mellophone, and also participates in JHS golf. "It's a different way of learning. Music helps you become mentally fit and ties all your subjects together. Besides skills you learn in music like memorization, math, communications, you also develop practical skills like time management and teamwork. And as a bonus, music is a lifelong activity that I will always pursue."
MUSIC EDUCATION BENEFICIAL TO STUDENTS IN MANY WAYS
Many studies show that students who engage in music during their school years excel academically.
According to The College Board, students taking courses in music performance and music appreciation score higher in the SAT than students with no arts participation. Data also revealed that for every year a student participated in music instruction, their SAT scores improved. According to the National Educational Longitudinal Study, music participants received more academic honors and awards than non-music students, and that the percentage of music participants receiving A's and B's was higher than the percentage of non-participants receiving those grades.
"We try as much as possible to make connections with core subjects and music," said Band Director Meghan Bolling-Murray. "Each piece of music we play has a history and served a purpose at the time it was written. I try to share this concept with the students as we are studying and rehearsing the piece. It is exciting to see them begin to relate what they learn about each piece with what they are learning in history class. We also consistently make the connection between rhythm and math and acoustical sound and science. We want students to see that it is all related, just used in a different way than the traditional classroom."
Academic achievement is only one way in which music enriches JHS students' lives. Music brings joy. Performing as a musician amplifies this joy, while developing self-confidence.
"Music is a cathartic outlet for me," said senior Katelyn Kindberg who is a singer with the A Cappella Choir/Madrigal Singers and flute player in the concert band and full orchestra. She is also a member of JHS Honor Society, captain of the Mock Trial team, treasurer of the Student Council and an officer in A Cappella. "It's a way to express myself that will carry throughout my life. There is a limit to using your creativity in your regular subjects but if, for example, you sing opera it's limitless. It's the time of the day where I can let everything else fall away and enjoy the moment of being in the music."
According to the Children's Music Workshop, music also teaches life skills such as:
Thinking creatively. Musicians learn to approach and solve problems in a variety of different ways
Learning discipline. Students study how the elements of music work together and what creates good, as opposed to mediocre, work. These higher standards require students to stretch their inner resources.
Enhancing teamwork skills, study skills, and self-discipline. Musicians must commit to learning music, through individual practice and group rehearsals. The discipline of working with others toward a single goal sets apart the music experience.
Developing workplace skills. Musicians focus on "doing" as opposed to observing. Today's employers need workers with flexible intellects that music education helps to create. In the music classroom, students also learn to better communicate and cooperate with one another.
Conquering fears and taking risks. Anxiety is a part of life but music is a way to help students look beyond their comfort zone and develop their full potential.
"Being a part of JHS music ensembles helps me balance my time," said senior Karen Ralph, who sings with the A Cappella Choir and Madrigal Singers, plays saxophone in the concert band, marching band and musical pit orchestra, and is also a member of JHS Honor Society. "I had to develop time management skills so I could do both my schoolwork and my music. With all of the high school courses I take, music is freedom. I think people are happier with music in their lives and don't get caught up in all the little things. Plus, I want to major in music education and hopefully come back to Jamestown to teach at the middle or high school level."
JHS MUSICIANS ARE AMBASSADORS
An important part of the success of the music program at Jamestown High School is the commitment on the part of students and their directors to give back to their community.
"We strive to teach our students to be better citizens and part of that is performing out in the community, whether with the orchestra at the Chautauqua Mall, the marching band in the Memorial Day Parade or the A Cappella Choir throughout the community at holiday time," said orchestra director Katie Derrenbacher. "We always tell our students that you are representatives of your high school and your city - goodwill ambassadors - whether in Jamestown or when we travel across the country to perform."
The A Cappella Choir has sung in Washington, New York City, Toronto, London, Chicago, Quebec City, Montreal and Boston. They also perform locally at their annual Vespers Services and over 20 performances throughout the community during the year. The Red Raider Marching Band has performed in New York City, Florida, California, appeared on "The David Letterman Show" and "The Today Show," and was crowned State Champions of Class AAA at the New York State Field Band Conference Championships and first place in the New York State Field Band Conference Championship for Large School Division 2. They also perform locally at JHS football games, local parades like Veterans Day and Memorial Day and at other events throughout the city.
JPS ELEMENTARY, MIDDLE SCHOOL MUSIC PROGRAMS GROOM MUSICIANS
JHS musicians did not magically appear as freshman with their abilities. An excellent elementary and middle school music program at JPS develops the musical talent of students to help them achieve success in high school. With music classes at the elementary and middle school level and performance ensembles like band, chorus and orchestra, the elementary and middle school music teachers give students the fundamental music education to help them excel at JHS.
"Without the tremendous elementary and middle school music classes and programs, we would not have a concert band, orchestra or A Cappella choir at JHS," said the JHS music teachers. "Every child in elementary and middle school receives music education, and that is the time in a student's life where the interest in music might be piqued. It's so important to give an introduction to music at a young age."
"I remember being in elementary school music class with Mrs. King singing songs. Walking around the room, she would lean down and listen to each of us sing. One day after class she told me I had a nice voice and that the JHS musical was looking to cast a little boy. I tried out, got the part, and it was the beginning of my vocal career," said senior John Teresi who is a member of A Cappella, Madrigal Singers, All-School Musical and plays saxophone in the marching band and concert band. He also is a member of the JHS Honor Society, Key Club, Jamestown Little Theater, Ski Club and Drama Club. "Because of the great music program at JHS, I will pursue music as a career and I plan to attend university for vocal performance and have been accepted at Mercyhurst College and Ithaca College. Many schools require a vocal CD and then you are invited to audition. Because of my excellent training at JPS, I have also been invited to audition at Carnegie-Mellon University and Indiana University. All of the music programs at Jamestown School have helped me get to this point."
Music instills lifetime habits such as critical analysis skills, the ability to solve problems, perseverance and a drive for excellence. The creative skills student musicians develop help them towards new ideas, experiences and challenges, and also, personal satisfaction.
"We are lucky to have the support of the JPS administration, community, parents and students to have such a wonderful music program in our schools," said Mr. Lydell. "We don't take it for granted and work as hard as we can to keep the tradition of music excellence moving forward at JHS."