The Impact of the
All-National Honor Ensembles Experience
Each year, NAfME’s All-National Honor Ensembles (ANHE) offer music students a rewarding music education experience like no other, including master classes with world-renowned conductors, networking with like-minded music students from around the nation, and a phenomenal performance on the national stage. It also provides directors an opportunity to showcase their successful music programs and the important benefits music provides for students. With local press and national recognition, ANHE helps shine a spotlight on the value of music in all students’ lives and the necessity of ensuring music-making is available to all students.
Recently, Zachary Lee of John L. Miller – Great Neck North High School in Great Neck, NY, shared his thoughts on participating in the 2016 All-National Honor Ensembles in Grapevine, TX. Zachary “is also a 6A+100 flutist, 6A+100 pianist, the President of our Tri-M® Chapter 2605, the President of our Junior Players, the lead in our upcoming production of The Three Penny Opera, a composer in his own right, an author and director, the Long Island Scholar Artist and simply the most caring young man I know at North High,” shared NAfME member Joseph Rutkowski, Instrumental Music Director and a Tri-M Chapter Advisor at Great Neck North High School.
Karen Lee, Zachary’s mother and North High School’s music booster chair, and Neil Saggerson, department chairman of Fine and Performing Arts at North High School, shared their thoughts on the importance of music education as well.
Zachary Lee, 2016 All-National Honor Ensembles – Mixed Choir
What motivates you to continue to excel in music at Great Neck North High School?
Music is unlike any other artistic medium. It has an unspeakable power of expression, one that exists on a purely emotional level. It can connect people of all races, creeds, and religions—when performing music together, it is impossible not to unify. Personally, music comes naturally to me. It’s a release.
Music is unlike any other artistic medium. It has an unspeakable power of expression, one that exists on a purely emotional level.
What inspired you to audition for the 2016 All-National Honor Ensembles – Mixed Choir?
I saw the opportunity to audition and decided, hey, why not? It’s always a blessing to be a part of a talented and studious group of musicians. Working with others on the professional level is all the motivation I really need.
What did you learn during your rehearsals and performance at the 2016 ANHE?
I learned the importance of working together as a group at ANHE. As part of the school music and drama programs, I’m always amazed when we come together to create something greater than any one of us could ever hope to accomplish on our own. ANHE reaffirmed this idea for me, as over four days a diverse group of musicians came together to make beautiful music.
What is your favorite memory from participating in the 2016 ANHE?
I really enjoyed the Barbershop Harmony Society Concert with Vocal Majority we were lucky enough to have perform for us. Not only were the singers incredibly talented, but they also brought an enthusiasm and a joyful presence to the stage that made their concert unforgettable.
Why should students audition for the 2017 All-National Honor Ensembles?
To take the opportunity to experience working with the incredibly talented ensemble and the skilled musical directors that ANHE brings together. It’s a once in a lifetime experience you shouldn’t pass up if you’re given the chance—plus, it’s going to be at Walt Disney World next year.
Karen Lee, Music Parent Booster Chair, John L. Miller – Great Neck North High School, NY
What has music meant for your family? Music has been a comfort and a source of joy to my family. My son has enjoyed singing and playing piano and flute since a young age, and my whole family has enjoyed hearing him perform in concerts and musical theater.
Describe the difference music has made in Zachary’s education. Music teaches so many things: mathematical rhythms, focus, multi-tasking, and especially collaboration—the importance of working together, depending on one another to do something none could do alone—better than any group project I’ve seen.
Why was the All-National Honor Ensembles an important event for your student? It was a terrific experience—a great opportunity to come together with other dedicated, talented students to perform amazing music, make friends and live with a diverse group of students from across the country. There were inspiring speakers and concerts too.
What would you say to parents whose students are considering auditioning for the 2017 ANHE? Encourage them—there are so many benefits to your student. Why not try?
It’s very important for parents to support local school music programs . . . teaching generations of students not only to enjoy and appreciate music, but also to collaborate, express themselves, work together, and give back to their community.
Why should music parents help support their students’ school music programs and their music educators? It’s very important for parents to support local school music programs—they can have a huge impact on individuals, communities and beyond, teaching generations of students not only to enjoy and appreciate music, but also to collaborate, express themselves, work together, and give back to their community—valuable life lessons applicable no matter what career they choose.
Neil Saggerson, Chairman: Dept. Fine and Performing Arts, John L. Miller – Great Neck North High School, NY
When a student like Zachary has the opportunity to participate in a group that is put together from among the best students in the county, the state, or the country, it reflects positively on several groups of people.
First and foremost, it is the outcome of hard work and dedication—not to forget talent—on the part of the student: hours spent practicing; a willingness to audition, and be adjudicated; a desire to be compared to other hard-working, dedicated, talented students who have practiced, auditioned and been adjudicated.
It reflects well on the families who pay for lessons, transport the student hither and yon to participate in all kinds of rehearsals, perf ormances, or competitions, good, bad or indifferent.
It is testament to the teachers, not only those as the student approaches musical maturity, but those in the early years who suffered through the appalling intonation and deficient counting skills; the scratching and the wheezing and the squeaking—and that’s before the kid has picked up the instrument! If those teachers had given up, where would we be? Where would they be?
It is also important to recognize the willingness of the school district, through its senior administrators, to devote funds to staffing and support of the instrumental and vocal programs.
What all the evidence shows is that participation in music enriches and enhances learning in so many ways.
But this is about Zach, and we hope he had a wonderful experience. Whether he pursues a career in music or not, we know that music will always be part of his life. And what all the evidence shows is that participation in music enriches and enhances learning in so many ways; not the least because it demands commitment and thought if it is to be done well. Or even badly.
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.