Put Your Music Program in the Limelight

NAfME member Debra Lindsay’s “A Tribute to the Military” program united students, faculty, parents, and the community at large in a musical tribute on Veterans Day. Highlights of the program included

  • Singing the National Anthem
  • Songs of each branch of the military and Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” sung by the school chorus
  • Speeches from members of the armed services
  • Speeches from the school’s business partners, who had provided T-shirts, bracelets, and dog tags for each student in grades 2–6
  • Mariah Carey’s “Hero,” sung by the school principal
  • A slide show of servicemen and women in Iraq

Lindsay and the music program were front and center.

Lindsay seized an opportunity to enhance learning at her school through the performing arts on Veterans’ Day. Working with a committee, she

  • wrote a narrative script with an accompanying PowerPoint display,
  • helped arrange for guest speakers,
  • met with administrators and company representatives, and
  • prepared the musical program.

To give students leadership opportunities, students led the program, the school Boy and Cub Scouts led the flag ceremony, and the SCA President was master of ceremonies

Students enjoyed the school counselor’s slide show of photos her brother took in Iraq, accompanied by “Proud to be an American.” Other teachers invited family members in the military to speak, with the goal of having veterans representing different branches of the service and different wars.

The invited speakers:

  • The school’s crossing guard, cafeteria aide, and volunteer (a Vietnam veteran). “Our children love and respect him,” said Lindsay, “and I thought the connection would be more meaningful.”
  • A staff member’s husband who flew helicopters in Bosnia; he met with all third-grade students and addressed the assembly.
  • A brigadier general—the father of one of the teachers—spoke to his daughter’s class and the assembly about his experiences in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
  • A student’s neighbor who showed up at the last minute in his Marine uniform and was invited to speak.

The principal—who has a terrific voice—was invited to sing. “Having her support is paramount to keeping music alive in our school,” Lindsay says. “This is a wonderful way to include her and further the bond between our principal and our students, and vice versa.”

Lindsay invited her school board member, who later sent a letter commending the quality of the program and the honor it bestowed on our veterans.

Although a lot of hard work went into the program, Lindsay was able to

  • showcase her students’ skills and talents,
  • support cross-curricular learning,
  • provide leadership opportunities for students,
  • collaborate with colleagues,
  • showcase the work of and the men and women of the U.S. military,
  • strengthen the bonds between students and members of the community, and
  • connect with her local school board,

all in one program!

Think of the possibilities for Memorial Day …

Debra Kay Robinson Lindsay teaches at Crestwood Elementary School in Springfield, VA, and leads the Crestwood After School Theater (CAST). She wrote the NAfME book Lessons in American Music, volume 1 and volume 2.

Crestwood Elementary’s business partners are The History Channel and Cox Communications.

–Linda C. Brown, March 25, 2009, © National Association for Music Education (nafme.org)