I attended the HMHS winter concert this year and while very well done, I was perplexed at the very small number of performers on the stage. In particular, the orchestra and band were the most affected with around 15 or so orchestra members performing. This was not the case in past years where the stage was full of participants! The orchestra had to borrow a 6th grade bass player because they didn’t have one. The band had a few more students than the orchestra but still sparse. Lastly the choir sang – but there are only a few freshmen in the choir this year. Normally it would be full of freshmen.
What is happening to our high school feeder program? Why aren’t musicians staying with music their high school years?
I believe that the change in the middle school schedule from a 6 day cycle (like the elementary school) to a 2 day cycle a few years ago is partly to blame. On a 6 day rotation, students could take all three musics, twice, in that 6 day cycle during “tutorial”. And there were plenty of kids who did so! But with the 2 day cycle, those in gifted and talented for instance, had to choose between orchestra OR gifted in 7th grade. In 8th grade, they couldn’t go to tech or art class if they went to orchestra. They were forced to choose. And forced to choose only one.
The result? 15 (or so) kids on the high school orchestra stage this year. Band and choir have similar declines.
We need to act now and make changes to allow our middle schoolers to explore music and encourage our high schoolers to stick with music without having to make very difficult choices. Or else, the music will start to fade.
Haddonfield, NJ 08033