CAROL VOIGTS: Manistee County schools need to bring back music programs

TO THE EDITOR:

As the Manistee Public School Board deliberates and evaluates who shall be the next superintendent, and the community has its input about this important position, I’d like to talk about something NO schools in Manistee County have — elementary music and a high school vocal program.

I speak to this issue as a longtime, and now retired music educator, as well as a product of the Manistee music departments from kindergarten with Miss Lorenz, elementary music education, and both the band and choral programs in high school. Of course, we’re talking about ages ago.

Since coming back to Manistee after retiring, as a music educator, I still participate in Manistee County’s music outreach as the director of the Manistee Choral Society, organist/choir director of the Manistee United Methodist Church and organizer of Fourth Friday Song Circle, as well as a local music busker. So you can see, I’m a big music supporter.

What I’m disturbed about is this situation of lack of vocal and elementary music in ANY of our county schools.

Today I took the time to phone or visit the websites of all the surrounding school districts about their music situation. Every single school from Northport down to Ludington and Lake County (except Buckley, Mason County Eastern and Mesick) has both elementary music and a vocal program in the high school — every single one!

When I talked to the central offices or the music directors, they were all enthusiastic supporters of their programs. (I am in no way negating the strong instrumental programs all of our county schools have, and I support the diligent and good work they do on behalf of our children.)

May I strongly urge the search committee of Manistee Area Public Schools to look for a candidate who will find a way to bring back these programs to our school. Perhaps in doing so, it would also encourage our outlying school districts of Manistee County to bring back vocal music and elementary music.

I find it difficult to understand why surrounding school districts have maintained the programs and every Manistee County school is lacking.

As Mr. Garcia indicated in a letter published on March 2, we have such a strong base of arts supporters in this county. This kind of curriculum should be available to all students, not just the ones whose parents can afford lessons and private classes.

This kind of curriculum is absolutely critical to a viable education. The strong arts base of this community will be only diminished if we don’t raise our children up in what we so value and appreciate.

Lastly, if we support brain research-based education, then we have no choice but to find the money and bring back elementary and vocal music to all our county schools. Community members, join me in this effort to urge our communities to provide music education to all our students K-12.

Carol Voigts

Wellston

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