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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

A chorus of confidence

Tears welled up in my eyes this afternoon as I watched a YouTube clip of students from P.S. 22 in Staten Island, New York performing Journey's 'Don't Stop Believin'.'

Never have I seen a group of kids sing with such expression and enthusiasm. Their smiles were radiant and their voices in perfect harmony.

Unable to draw myself away from the computer screen, I watched several videos of this choir performing, but it was not only the kids that impressed me – it was the choir director.

I've never met the man, but I could tell right away that he was passionate about working with these kids. He smiled, jumped up and down and danced through every performance, and congratulated the kids when they were finished.

I wish every public school had a music program like this one – and a director like him. But sadly, they don't.

I went to a private elementary school, where we had a well-known music program. It was nothing compared to P.S. 22's, but it was remarkable in its own right. We learned how to play the recorder and some basic guitar (which I've already forgotten). We had a primary choir for first through fourth grades, and a junior choir for fifth through eighth.

Music class and choir rehearsals were the highlight of my week. They allowed my peers and I some time away from the stuffy classroom and routine written assignments.

My 13-year-old brother doesn't have the same experiences in his public junior high school. When he first began attending there, he wanted to learn to play bass guitar, but mostly gave up on that goal when the school didn't offer lessons. A family friend occasionally teaches him some songs on the bass, but he could've been a pro by now if the school actually had a music program.

Music programs instill a kind of confidence in students that other academic programs can't. There was nothing shy about the P.S. 22 students, and they had an aura about them that screamed, 'Nothing can ever bring me down while I'm performing on this stage!'

That's why music programs should never, ever be cut from public schools. It annoys me how many schools are now only focusing on preparing students for the standardized exams they need to pass on to the next grade.

Those exams are important – I'm not denying that. But kids aren't robots that memorize vocabulary words and multiplication tables all day. They're young people with talents and passions that are just waiting to blossom.

Making music together can be a great social experience for kids as well. The P.S. 22 chorus members seemed to be the best of friends.

Let's think about the kids who don't have music programs in their schools. When they look back on their school days, they'll remember the four walls of their classroom and the hundreds of math problems they practiced.

But for the kids that do have these opportunities, they'll never forget the natural euphoria of music. They'll have a confidence that can't be erased.

Let's turn on the spotlight – it's time for these kids to shine.

E-mail: amanda.woods@ubspectrum.coma



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