Music in Our Schools event celebrates relevance, benefits of music

Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Middle School Band Director Erica Gorman directs the eighth-grade band in ‘Metrodance’ in a number during the Music in Our Schools concert event Tuesday evening at Cassville High School. Julia Kilmer/

Students given opportunity to express themselves

To celebrate the inspiration, artistic expression and sense of fulfillment music offers and its influence in the school setting, Cassville High School and multiple music performance groups hosted the Music in Our Schools concert event on March 14.

After many powerhouse and moving performances by 12 different performing groups made up of students of all ages, including the Kid Kat Choir, Middle School and High School Concert and Jazz Bands, Chorale, Mixed Choir, No Boys Allowed (NBA) and Centerstage, any doubts about the relevance of music and fine arts in schools could easily be considered a mute point after the concert concluded.

Centerstage were upfront and the center of attention during each of their choreographed, drama-packed singing performances, that featured American historical, patriotic and cultural undertones. One scene featured students river dancing. The group is directed by Mary Richmiller, high school vocal music director and music department head. Julia Kilmer/

In addition to learning discipline, enjoying a sense of accomplishment, and self-expression gained from learning to play an instrument or singing in a group with others, music students get to experience a spectrum of beauty and other benefits from their involvement in the fine arts.

As such, the Cassville Music Department, represented by Directors Ed Lammers, Erica Gorman, Shelby Long, Micah Boise and Mary Richmiller, expressed gratitude to school administration for their constant support of the music program, maintenance staff for their assistance with sound and equipment, and parents for recognizing that music is a worthwhile part of their child's life.

Studies show that involvement in music has the capacity to boost a student's performance in other areas, not to mention enrich one's life on a multitude of levels, Lammers shared.

High School Band Director Ed Lammers addresses the crowd before directing the High School Concert Band in a moving performance of ‘Fantasy On A Japanese Folk Song,’ was one of several selections performed by bands during the Music in Our Schools evening performance Tuesday night. Julia Kilmer/

"Musical opportunities available in schools are beneficial to students in a number of ways," he said. "I've seen firsthand the evidence which formal studies have shown: students active in the fine arts, especially music, perform better academically. But, do we really need that justification? Music provides avenues of artistic expression for the individual; uplifting experiences for the human spirit, exposure to a variety of cultural, historical and aesthetic journeys unavailable through other disciplines. In short, it is a raison d' ere (translation: reason for being)."

Richmiller, vocal music director and department head, who directs show choirs NBA (No Boys Allowed) and Centerstage, said the groups have been competing for 13 years.

"Music in our Schools is an annual event," she said. "March is Music in our Schools month across the nation. This is the only concert of the year that features every single performing band and choir in the Cassville R-IV school system.

High School Band Director Ed Lammers conducts the High School Jazz Band in ‘Birdland,’ in which student Jaymen Dewitt was featured in a brassy saxophone solo riff. The upbeat number had hands clapping and toes tapping, with Dewitt’s solo and Lammers’ conducting, the highlights. Julia Kilmer/

"Show choir performs contemporary music, which could fall anywhere from 1900 through today, and covers jazz, pop, rock, blues, gospel, classical and more. The idea of show choir is to present a series of songs that feature both singing and dancing. We like to add costumes, props, stunts and hopefully, humor."

Some of the choir's performances included numbers from the group's competitive shows, in which it competes from January through March.

On April 10, a concert will be held at the FEMA Building at 7 p.m. in which guests can see the full competitive show from Centerstage and NBA, along with performances by the Chorale and the Kids Show Choir Camp.

The NBA (No Boys Allowed) choral group, featuring soloist Ashlynn Pulliam, performs “With Love, From Motown,” during the Music in Our Schools event Tuesday evening. They also performed, ‘That’s Why I’m Sending You,’ featuring soloist Abby McCollough. Julia Kilmer/

Students in all groups and of all ages put in many hours of practice to deliver the beautiful performances heard by audience members and parents Tuesday evening.

"The CHS Concert Band has been practicing the pieces they performed Tuesday for about two months, along with other music," Lammers said.

A moving piece with Asian undertones, reminiscent of an epic movie score performed by the concert band, was a piece the All-District Honor Band played in January, liked and decided to play in the recent school event, Lammers said.

Members of the Middle School Jazz Band perform “Chameleon,” featuring soloists Bob Preddy and Hailey Bowen. The group is directed by Erica Gorman. Julia Kilmer/

"The students took to it instantly," he said. "We had several other pieces which we could have done, but when I asked the students to choose, this is what they chose."

'Madcap Mallet Mania' was the last piece, which is showy and lighthearted, an obvious encore number. 'Birdland,' played by the CHS Jazz Band, was also one of their favorite [selections].

As thrilling and rewarding as performance is, it is also about growth and self-expression, Lammers said.

The Kid Kat Choir sings ‘Danny Boy,’ directed by Micah Boise. Julia Kilmer/

"One of the areas of growth I always strive for is exposure, and playing a good variety of music contributes to the enjoyment by all," he said. "I think the music chosen, in addition to other music we are working on, provides a lot of variety, the students don't get bored and, consequently, they really enjoy working on the music. I always enjoy students having fun, expressing themselves and bringing that joy to audiences."

Along with performances, another highlight of the evening included school board member Carolyn Bowen receiving the Music Advocacy award. Bowen has contributed decades of service and inspiration to local music venues, the schools and music ministries.

Upon receiving the award, Bowen, who was not expecting the award, received a standing ovation.

"I was completely caught off guard, so it was a very pleasant surprise," she said.

Bowen, a Cassville graduate and previous drum corps major, said she has always promoted the Music in Our Schools.

"I've always been very supportive of any music program, and especially making sure we keep good, strong music programs at school," Bowen said.

"I think we have a fabulous program that's very enjoyable, and you get to see the progression of how students start young at third grade in the Kid Kat Choir and go all the way through high school and perform in the show choirs on the vocal side, and in band, start with in sixth grade and go through high school as well."

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