Bringing Back the Music

GLOVERSVILLE – The Gloversville Enlarged School District’s instrumental music program got a significant budget increase this year, leading to the reintroduction of some old programs and the addition of new ones.

These include the reintroduction of fifth-grade band, an expansion of fourth-grade music programs and more.

Ann Trojan, GESD music teacher and chair of the music department, said Superintendent Mike Vanyo has been pushing for more funding for the music program.

“It’s thanks to [Vanyo] that we have this increase to the program,” Trojan said.

Trojan and Jim Crawford, McNab Elementary School principal, said this expansion was made after budget cuts hit the district in 2010, when the music program saw severe cuts. For the last several years, the district has not had a strong music program, according to Vanyo and Trojan. But both Trojan and Crawford said they believe they can revitalize the program, starting in the elementary schools.

Crawford said the cuts had an immediate adverse affect on the music programs.

“It became abundantly obvious that this program – musicianship, knowing an instrument – needed to start at the elementary level,” Crawford said.

Crawford said the elementary band program shrank, causing a domino effect that shrank the middle and high school bands.

“It was apparent in performance level and the retention of members,” Crawford said.

Trojan said the program, 20 years ago, used to have 14 teachers and hundreds of students in the ensembles.

“We lost probably 25 percent of our kids,” Trojan said.

In the 1994-95 school year, the budget for the music program was $13,715. In 2013-14, only $1,500 was set aside for the music program. However, for the proposed 2014-15 budget, $10,250 was offered for the music program.

Already the plan to revitalize the music program has begun. The first stage of the expansion began earlier this year, with instrumental practice for fifth-grade students.

According to the district’s website, nearly 90 students are taking advantage of the courses. All fifth-graders participate in general music, but can also participate in weekly half-hour instrumental lessons offered in the Boulevard, Kingsborough, McNab and Park Terrace elementary schools. Students in fourth grade will be allowed to take the same courses. Fourth- and fifth-graders can also join chorus. Meanwhile, 60 sixth-graders also began taking instrumental lessons in the 2013-14 school year, double the sixth-grade enrollment in the 2012-13 school year.

The school’s website said research has shown that music education has academic, social and emotional benefits.

Trojan and Crawford said these aren’t the only planned expansions. Recorder practice also will start in third grade next year, allowing students to get in early on instrumental music.

“We will be looking to expand to have a band in fifth and sixth grade, ” Vanyo said.

Expansions will be made to the middle school band as well.

The Board of Education is also looking at ways to expand the jazz band program into the middle school, as well as potentially a pep band. Crawford said this would take a few years to implement.

Students may enroll in the instrumental music program following a $20 rental fee. Instruments include clarinet, trumpet, French horns, trombone, baritone and percussion.