Music program draws support

February 03, 1998


Staff Writer

A school instrumental music program can help keep youngsters out of trouble, improve their learning ability and boost their self-esteem, supporters of an effort to reinstitute an elementary-level program in Washington County said Tuesday night.

Members of the Washington County Alliance for Elementary Instrumental Music were joined by parents, students, former students, teachers and other advocates in their pleas to the Washington County Board of Education.

Supporters - evident by their small yellow ribbon pins and their bright yellow T-shirts pleading "Bring Back the Instrumental Music" - packed the board auditorium, lining the back and side walls.


Citing research results and their own experiences, more than 20 people talked about the benefits of having an instrumental music program in elementary grades.

The school system cut its program in 1995.

Presenting a petition they said bore more than 2,850 signatures, members of the Washington County Alliance for Elementary Instrumental Music asked the school board to add $225,000 to its budget to hire eight new teachers and reinstitute the program.

A string of men, women and children followed their formal presentation.

Playing an instrument gives people a purpose in life and keeps young people out of trouble by giving them something to do, said Maestro Barry Tuckwell, conductor of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra.

"The arts exercise your brain and make you a more interesting person," said Tuckwell, a world-renowned French horn player. "To me, there's no argument. Music has to be a part of our school system. The sooner it starts, the better it is for our society."

A Smithsburg Middle School student told board members his life was "depressed and cruddy" before he took up the sousaphone in school.

He said he credits it for making life a whole lot better.

"I had something to do. It wasn't just sitting here worrying," said the boy, who said he has a brother in the third grade who'd like to play the trombone.

Clear Spring Vice Mayor Julianna Albowicz said she rushed from a Clear Spring town council meeting to deliver a resolution from the mayor and council asking the program be restored.

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