FOXBORO (CBS) – As educators plan for the 21st century, there’s a big push to focus on STEM subjects – science and math.
Some parents and teachers worry this will come at the expense of the arts but the town of Foxboro is making sure that isn’t happening there.
As you watch these children gather instruments and focus their attention you might mistake this for a conservatory of music.
But these are 5th graders at Ahern Middle School in Foxboro where music is at the center of the school.
The commitment to the music program is impressive – while some students are practicing in the orchestra every single one of their classmates is either singing in the chorus or across the hall playing in the band at the same hour every day.
Others learn music technology.
“I think it’s a really good opportunity because many schools don’t have this,” one student said.
“It’s helped me learn how to play the flute and how to sing better,” another added.
“We want our students to leave with just a love of music for their whole lives,” said Orchestra Director Cami Tedoldi.
Tedoldi, a graduate of the program herself – believes Foxboro’s long standing tradition of musical excellence was a matter of will.
“The town and the administration for a long time have really believed that that’s valuable here in Foxboro,” Tedoldi said. “That our students need music as a part of their education.”
Her former teacher Ted Hagarty is in his 41st year at the school and recalls that as budget cuts came, that commitment was unwavering; the music department was treated as an equal with all other subjects.
“It gets put into the entertainment category – and it’s not,” Hagarty says. “What we’re doing is teaching a subject – it’s a discipline.”
A discipline the students enjoy and can help them with all of their academic work.
“I think we’re teaching them skill sets that cross over to the rest of their subjects – organizational skills, individual responsibility, time management,” Tedoldi said.
Someday they may perform like Foxboro High School students at Symphony Hall or Lincoln Center, but for now, they’ll keep practicing.
“Music is home for a lot of students,” Tedoldi said.
“I’ve always loved singing and playing an instrument and it’s just so much fun to do it at school too,” one student said.
“It doesn’t matter how bad you sing or how good you sing it’s about having fun,” another student said.
So every class 5th to 8th grade is there simultaneously for an hour every day. A past principal at the Ahern Middle School wanted music to be the heart of the building and so it is located in the very center of everything.
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