Finding the words to say…….   Leave a comment

Back in June my high school music teacher Pat retired..she will be missed by a lot of people and she was a great teacher. I found out before schoool started that they were not going to be replacing her. This news was very shocking and disappointing. I was originally going to write a letter to the editor  of the Amherst  Citizen but then I retracted my decision. The main reason  was because I felt it wasn’t really my place to say much about the situation because I did not know too much information about why the school board made the choice not to replace Pat. I can only make assumptions and sometimes assumptions may not be the best things to make. Knowledge is power so they say therefore it is hard to base an opinion off little knowledge of what is going on.
I do know the following though…based on general observations I have made throughout the past couple years as I like to support the Souhegan Theatre and Music departments as much as I can by going to the plays, concerts and jazz nights.

I graduated from Souhegan 11 years ago and back when I was in high school all the music ensembles had large numbers of people in them. I don’t really know what exactly has led to the decline in recent years in participation in music but I think the low numbers in the music department definitely affect the people who try out for the musicals. The chorus is basically the feeder system for those to try out for the musicals and thus far the band is the feeder system for the pit orchestra. For example for the 2013 Musical the pit band only had four people in it. Last year when I went to see the spring concert I noticed that the chorus had about 20 people in and the Acapella group had about 16 people in it. All girls and one boy.

I sat there wondering “What  leads to the decline in participation in the music groups at Souhegan? ” Perhaps the decline in numbers led  to the choice not to replace Pat. I heard that a lot of kids did not initially sign up for chorus  this year because of Pat not coming back. On the plus side Kim Whitehead got hired to teach Acapella and Handbells which make me happy because she is awesome.  Carl is temporarily teaching chorus until a replacement for Pat is found from what I understand. I think that spreads him a little too thin because he already teaches all the band classes and jazz band.

I am then left to wonder about the future of  the theatre department of Souhegan and also the musicals. This year’s musical is going to be The Boyfriend which I am excited to see again after seeing it out on by Riverbend Youth Company back in 2009.  If the music ensembles work as feeder systems for the performers in the plays and pit orchestras and the participation numbers are as low as I’ve noticed them to be recently what this mean for future musicals?

Budget is the thing that it all boils down to I guess and I estimate that budget cuts  and low participation numbers led to the choice not to replace Pat.  This is disappointing to say the least. Some people may think that sports are more important than the arts and that’s probably where most of the budget money goes to.

During Meet Me In St. Louis I remember having a conversation with one of my cast mates backstage about how neither of us were involved in sports…during the course of our conversation we deducted that in its own way theatre can be definitely considered a sport. We spend 3 days a week learning dances  and getting our bodies and voices perfect for performance.  Not to mention that all the musicians who are in the music groups at Souhegan go to local,state and also national competitions to show other people how good at their craft they are. So yes, music and theatre go hand in  hand and both can be considered a sport.

I wish the arts got a little bit more respect and the people who wrote the school budgets saw things from this point of view.


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