“The kids love it! They like the songs; they LOVE the sound of hundreds of voices singing together; they’re in awe of the Capitol building; sometimes they are in awe of the guest speakers. And, since they are kids, they especially like having a day away from school!”
So says Judy Rogers, MIOSM Chair for Arkansas Music Educators Association, describing what it’s like for Arkansas students to perform at the State Capitol as part of ArkMEA Capitol Concerts during March, Music In Our Schools Month.
The Arkansas MEA has been participating in the capitol concerts for 14 years, and Rogers has been coordinating it for the last 6 years through the Secretary of State’s office.
“It is all about the students and The World’s Largest Concert!”
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was a strong proponent for music. According to Rogers, while Huckabee was in office, he came to this event each year and proclaimed March to be “Music In Our Schools Month” in Arkansas, with an official proclamation.
“The Arkansas members are very enthusiastic about this program. We started with just one day, and it has grown to the point that we had to expand to two days. This year, March 16 and 17, we will have about 400 students coming each day, many more than in the past.”
Rogers explains that the event starts with individual schools performing one or two songs each, if they so choose (often madrigals, folk, or K – 8 music selections). This is followed by all the students joining to sing the World’s Largest Concert selections. The event always includes one string group, and some years, they’ve had Orff ensembles. The Secretary of State’s office won’t allow any other type of instrumental group at the Capitol because “The Capitol has marble walls, marble floors, and huge marble staircases; and sounds reverberate throughout the building!” Rogers says.
“Our special guest speaks for 10-15 minutes about the importance of music education; I make a few final remarks, we sing one last song, and that completes the program. The Capitol photographer takes group pictures of all the students around the rotunda of the Capitol.”
–Sue Rarus, February 17, 2011, © National Association for Music Education