School administrators here say they’re hopeful for the future of musical performance.
Due to funding cuts, many of the Dayton Public Schools marching bands and performance ensembles were eliminated more than a decade ago. Recently, district leaders began an effort to bring them back to high school and middle school curriculum.
“There’s been an entire generation of DPS graduates who have not received any sort of musical performance instruction,” said Alex Price, a band director at Belmont High School and Wright Brothers Middle School. “So we’re really fortunate to bring this back in and start building it back up.”
Tuesday, ahead of the Winter Guard International (WGI) championships in Dayton, professional musicians and educators helped lead workshops with high school music students.
Marcia Neel, a former Kettering resident and now the president of Music Education Consultants, is partnering with the district as it revives its music performance education.
“It helps the entire school climate when you have a really super music program,” Neel said. “It sort of lifts the whole school.”
Neel, also a senior director with Yamaha, enlisted Yamaha percussionist and drumline coordinator for the Houston Texans, Lamar Burkhalter, as well as WGI executive director Ron Nankervis and former Centerville band director Wayne Markworth to teach students in Tuesday’s workshops.
Markworth also taught DPS superintendent Elizabeth Lolli in the eighth grade. Dr. Lolli said her musical experiences influenced her decision to reinstate musical performance in the district.
“The leadership opportunities that are offered, the actual life skills that are offered are some of the major benefits of being in any kind of ensemble, like a band or a choir,” Lolli said.
For the second year, band classes are offered at DPS high schools and middle schools. The district also hopes to expand its choir programs and is in the process of creating drumlines at the high school level.
Belmont High School senior Jada Stubblefield said her band director and involvement in band encouraged her to improve her academic performance enough to earn admittance into the Ohio State University.
“I get to finish out the school year with some of my closest friends and graduate with them and I brought my grades up,” Stubblefield said.
Dunbar High School senior Sharon Williams added, “It built my confidence a lot… because I wasn’t a very confident person before.”
“It’s really helped me with staying focused and staying on track,” added Belmont senior Brandon Passmore.
The Dayton Public Schools Foundation is looking for new or used instruments to furnish its bands and accepts monetary donations to finance music programs in the district.
If you’d like to help, you can learn more here.