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Strong music programs are imperative in schools

I urge Beaverton residents to join me in supporting strong music education in Beaverton public schools.

When I attended Beaverton High School from 1992-1995, there was a thriving music and theater program. I immersed myself in all that was available, from choir to theater classes to participating in the school musicals. These disciplines not only boosted my sense of self and my level of confidence, they gave me a wonderful community of friends and provided incentive for me to attend class every day and keep my grades up in order to participate.

The education I received from my involvement in music starting in fifth-grade band at Raleigh Hills and continuing on through high school set me on my path to pursue musical theater in college, a career on Broadway and as a recording artist.

It’s terribly upsetting to hear that the music programs in my hometown have diminished to the point that many elementary students are only receiving one music class every six days and Aloha High nearly lost its marching band in August.

I’ve read the Music Task Force proposal and support the recommendations for next year, which target increasing elementary general music instructional time to the National Standard of 90 minutes per week and establish a program for fifth-grade band. I think this is a smart, cost-effective approach.

From the foundation of solid elementary music instruction and performance, this pool of students will move up the ladder to benefit their sixth-grade middle school choir and band the following year and continue to progress until four years later high school programs begin to feel the surge.

The proposal also calls for a central music supervisor who will recruit top teachers, bridge students from the elementary to middle school programs, then middle to high school (where often there is a large fall off in participation), and provide other critical centralized duties.

You can read the full BSD Music Task Force proposal at beaverton.k12.or.us.

I strongly believe in the value of music education in public schools. I created and am currently voluntarily teaching a multi-dimensional music program at the middle school level in the neighborhood of Watts in Los Angeles, Calif.

Whether or not students go on to pursue a career in music is irrelevant. There are benefits from arts education that serve to enhance all areas of life and study. Sustained involvement in a musical discipline correlates with academic success in mathematics and reading, especially among economically disadvantaged populations.

I’ve just shared some of my stories and ideas through the online music survey. If you’re also an alum or a current student or parent or a community member who has been impacted by music in Beaverton schools, you can also get involved by filling out the 10-question survey and giving your comments at surveymonkey.com/s/BSDMusic.

I passionately believe it is not only necessary but imperative that a solid, district-wide program for music education be created as a catalyst to institute cutting edge programs in theater and other fine arts departments in the Beaverton School District.

Shoshana Bean graduated from Beaverton High School in 1995.



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