Students from the Panama-Buena Vista School District will demonstrate their musical abilities in the district’s 35th annual Music Makers concert this Thursday evening to celebrate an activity that extends well beyond making beautiful music.
Amy McGuire, the district’s administrator for visual and performing arts, said the event gathers 862 student performers from the district’s five junior high schools to show families and friends how much they’ve learned from the district’s 30 music teachers over the years.
“We are proud to have a Junior High Festival that features our Select Symphonic Bands and Orchestras, which are mostly 8th graders, and Select Chorus, which is both 7th and 8th grade,” McGuire wrote in an email exchange.
Thursday’s program, which starts at 7 p.m. at Rabobank Theater, includes works for symphonic wind band, such as “At the Crossroads” by R. W. Smith; “Northlake Festival Overture,” by James Curnow; and music from the Pixar film “The Incredibles.” The orchestra will perform a Sinfonia by Telemann; “Pioneer Hoedown” by Matt Turner; and “Remember Me,” from the film “Coco.” The chorus program will include “Elijah Rock” arranged by Roger Emerson and “A Million Dreams” from “The Greatest Showman.”
McGuire noted that about 40 percent of the district’s students — just over 9,800 students — participate in music education programs, and the district continues to place a high value on performing arts — especially music— in its budget. But McGuire includes a word of caution.
“Most school districts are starting to look toward the possibility of a recession,” McGuire wrote. “When faced with reductions in school funding, all departments and programs must be considered for cutbacks.”
“Historically, however, the District has made every effort to provide an enriching music education program for our students even in the most difficult economic conditions.”
The district’s own statements emphasize what is generally known about music education: its positive impact on overall student learning — language and math skills, eye-hand coordination and motor skill development, social skills, discipline and self-confidence — is well documented. Apparently, it also makes students want to go to school.
“Music student attendance rates are always at 98% or 99% and our students make up a large portion of the students that go on to make music in high school and college,” McGuire wrote.
That work ethic — another benefit of music education — is evidently developed through the demanding schedule of performances to which the students commit. After Thursday’s concert, the students will not have time to rest on their laurels. They then have their own school “gigs” — school band and choir concerts, major festivals such as the Kern County Honor Music Festival and the California Music Educators Ratings Festival, a jazz festival at Actis Junior High and performances at Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland.