Albion music program again honored

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 April 2013 at 12:00 am

District is only one in GLOW with NAMM recognition

Beauty and the Beast

Photo by Tom Rivers – Albion High School students perform Beauty and the Beast in March, one of two full-scale musicals put on by the district. High school musicians put on 60 different performances during the school year with drama, instrumental and vocal concerts.

ALBION – In an era of tight school budgets and packed student schedules, Albion Central School and students from elementary, middle and high school are making music a priority.

The district, for the sixth straight year, has been named a “Best Communities for Music Education,” one of 307 in the country to receive the designation from the North American Music Merchants. About 2,000 districts applied for the honor.

“Our kids commit to the program because they enjoy it,” said Michael Thaine, the high school band teacher.

He leads five different instrumental groups, and advises students who direct four others. In all, Thaine said high school musicians in drama, instrumental and vocal groups perform 60 times during the school year.

“Our philosophy is we need to be out performing,” he said. “That’s how you build performers. It’s not just band and chorus and a musical once a year. In Albion, our kids are performing all the time.”

Thaine and the music teachers also have added a faculty recital to the school’s performing calendar. Thaine, an Albion graduate, said the teachers are committed to the program. Most of them are Albion alumni. If they didn’t graduate from the program, they live in the district.

“We all have a vested interest,” Thaine said.

The high school puts on two musicals a year and two talent shows. There are 126 people in chorus. Students also perform in men’s and women’s select choruses, also well as solo festivals.

“It really is a nice recognition,” Gary Simboli, the musical director and vocal teacher, said about the NAMM honor.

Albion is the only school in the rural GLOW counties – Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming – to receive the award this year. Several nearby suburban districts – Brockport, Hilton, Akron and Clarence – earned the recognition.

NAMM said its Best Communities designation “recognizes collaborative, from-the-ground-up efforts of teachers, administrators, students and parents who continually work to keep comprehensive music education as an integral part of the core curriculum.”

Mary Luehrsen, NAMM Foundation executive director, said there is overwhelming research showing that music education leads to higher overall student performance and success in life.

Simboli said the music program is strong in all Albion school buildings. The middle school puts on a full-scale musical, and its students perform with the marching and jazz bands.

Elementary music teachers also lead students in performances throughout the year. The parents of the elementary musicians deserve praise as well, Thaine said, because the parents drive the students to practices before school.