MELROSE (CBS) — It happens here in Melrose. Just seven miles north of Boston, it was the birthplace of retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter. It’s also a hockey town, home to former Bruins great Andy Brickley and pee wee great, Chris McKinnon.
It’s also a city using an innovative philosophy for learning based on the idea that no two students learn alike. Here the words: “I can’t do it” are not allowed.
“You believe that through your effort and intelligent work that you can get better and you can overcome a challenge,” explained band director Matt Repucci.
In an effort to model that philosophy, Repucci challenged Superintendent Cyndy Taymore to learn how to play the saxophone in just two months.
“The goal was in eight weeks to play with the youth band. And that’s a big goal because most of these kids have been playing for a year-and-a-half,” he explained.
Taymore, who had not touched a musical instrument since playing the piano as an 8-year-old girl, was hesitant. “I thought I had no musical ability,” she said. But she realized that taking on the challenge would be a great example for the students of Melrose.
Taymore brought elementary school principal Mary Beth Maranto along for the ride. “She’s as bad as I am,” Taymore said in a video produced by the high school.
Repucci started with the basics. Reading music, breathing and keeping time. Then came the instruments and practice, practice, practice. “I actually got to the point where I enjoyed practicing because it took my mind off other things,” Taymore said.
“We had clear expectations, another piece of this. We only had to learn one song with six notes,” Taymore explained.
The results of all that hard work were on display on March 14th when Taymore and Maranto performed in a concert with the youth band. “It was terrifying,” she recalled.
If they felt intimidated, it didn’t show.
“It was really crazy and she did really well,” said flute player Sophie Wilson.
“I definitely wasn’t that good when I played the trumpet for eight weeks,” said Adam Saragosa.
Taymore and Repucci think the experiment was a success by showing kids that with hard work you can overcome challenges. “It’s not magic; you just let kids do the great things they can do,” Repucci said.
“The head of global language has decided I should learn French. We will see what happens,” Taymore said smirking.