Students in the Alexandria City Public Schools Elementary Honors Chorus.
On March 24th, students from ten elementary schools came together for their Elementary Honors Chorus’s spring concert in honor of Music In Our Schools Month’s 30th Anniversary. The enthusiastic ten-year-olds were brought together by a program that was started last year as the brainchild of 40-year veteran teacher Debra Lindsay and was profiled by NPR for MIOSM in their first year. Despite the new program, Ms. Lindsay is well-known in Virginia and has a long history as not only a music teacher, but also as an advocate.
“I remember hearing about MIOSM twenty years ago. Since becoming an active member in the last ten or so years, I have always taught the songs to my students because I felt it was important for elementary students in all grade levels to have some songs (other than those directly related to the county curriculum) that they would be able to sing together.
I later became the president of the Virginia Elementary Music Educators Association and active in advocacy of public school music. One year I invited Lee High School local school chorus to sing with us since I knew that my very high percentage Title I students would never have the joy and luxury of private music lessons. I felt it was my duty to give them this opportunity sing their hearts out. I also supported my local middle school teacher in his recruiting efforts. I knew that in Title I middle and high schools music programs are underrepresented, teachers lose positions, and children miss out. If the needs for these students are not met, they may never have this kind of opportunity again. It was an easy decision.”
This year, the program was also taught by Denise Swanburg, and has grown and become even more involved in MIOSM. The students recorded Always Sing and Why We Sing to take part in the MIOSM Concert and were eager to talk about their love of music. “My favorite thing was meeting new friends from all the schools in my district. I really like to be on stage it makes me feel famous and important.” Said Naol, a ten-year old Alexandria student. Marie, another chorus participant, agreed. “I liked singing in a choral group because it makes me feel happy and makes me want to sing more. My favorite song was Always Sing, because I liked the tempo and lyrics. RaeLynn is pretty cool, too. I watched her other videos.”
From left to right: Alexandra Eaton (NAfME), Debra Lindsay, Denise Swanburg.
Parents, administrators, and community guests were brought to their feet at the end of the seven song concert and the two teachers were congratulated and embraced. Lindsay says she loves seeing her students perform in this annual event and the way the community rally’s around them. “There is no doubt that without my making the MIOSM Concert a big deal that many would not know about how wonderful it is to see our children taking a political stand about why music is important, why they like it, and why they want it to continue. I can also tell you that the students’ families and my school administration and communities have always been supportive. I believe they know music is important in our public schools and they want it to continue for every child every week of the school year. As long as I am an elementary music educator, you will find my students and many supporters among those who celebrate MIOSM. “
The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) provides a number of forums for the sharing of information and opinion, including blogs and postings on our website, articles and columns in our magazines and journals, and postings to our Amplify member portal. Unless specifically noted, the views expressed in these media do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Association, its officers, or its employees.
Alexandra Eaton, NAfME Legislative Policy Advisor, March 30, 2015. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org).