Here’s to school music teachers

Published 6:19 pm Friday, August 7, 2015

It’s been a busy summer and I have neglected writing this Short Rows for the past two months. It is, nonetheless, intended as a sincere salute to school music teachers, a group of people whose training and talent provides an immense service to our community.

Hardy Elementary School’s First Grade performed a concert for parents, grandparents and other school patrons just before the end of school. We had purchased prime seats for the event during the Isle of Wight Education Foundation’s dinner last fall (a thought for this fall if you have a grandchild in public school and are lucky enough for tickets to be auctioned at the October fund raiser).

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So we filed in to hear what we thought would be a pretty typical First Grade concert. It was anything but …

April Chapman, who teaches music at Hardy and is one of a corps of dedicated music teachers in Isle of Wight’s schools, had not only selected toe-tapping songs for the concert, but had written original introductions for each of them. The introductions made the concert special and gave the children in those First Grade classes simple philosophical reasons for learning and enjoying them.

Introducing “Everyone Has Music Inside,” for example, a class member asked “What is it about music that is so special? It can make us laugh or cry, feel excited or relaxed.

“I think music is special because it is inside of all of us. It is in our souls from the day we are born.”

Mrs. Chapman could have stopped there and been satisfied with her message to students and parents, but each song thereafter carried a message highlighting a different genre. Introducing “Sounds All Around Us” came out this way:

“Music is everywhere! Just think about it — doorbells ringing, car horns beeping, birds singing. There is music all around us.”

Nor does music answer during the good times. The class sang about sad times as well. Introducing “Old Enough to Sing the Blues,” a soloist lamented, “I just haven’t been having a good day.”

To that, another responded, “Sounds like the blues to me … And I know just the thing to do. Sing about it!”

And in conclusion, a youngster told the audience “There is something to be said for starting each day with a song.”

And so there is.

Mrs. Chapman is one of an entire corps of music teachers in Isle of Wight who are instilling a love of music to students from kindergarten through Grade 12. Few if any of those students will earn a living from music. But every one who was touched by these talented teachers will have a richer life for having been so.