The Mid-Prairie music program really struck a chord with the Iowa Music Educators Association. They awarded the local program the Association’s Exemplary Music Award, to be presented during the …
The Mid-Prairie music program really struck a chord with the Iowa Music Educators Association. They awarded the local program the Association’s Exemplary Music Award, to be presented during the All-State Concert November 20 in Ames.
As far as the district’s music department is concerned, the award is a reflection of a successful team effort, something that involves the entire community.
“While the music staff provides the leadership, expertise and vision for a music program, their ideas cannot become reality without the cooperation and financial support of the entire school staff and community,” said Becky Curtis, instrumental music instructor at the Middle School.
“Why Mid-Prairie? There are probably many reasons, but I believe it stems from our basic belief that every student is entitled to a quality music education,” said Lousie Frakes, secondary vocal music instructor.
“We believe that every student should be taught to sing, should experience playing instruments, should know how to listen to music critically, should be able to read music and understand the language of music and enjoy making music,” she added.
For Curtis, the goal is to “encourage a life-long love of music in as many students as possible. This goal begins in kindergarten.”
It also helps that other teachers use music in their classrooms in a variety of ways and that “we have a staff who values music, as evidenced by teachers who are supportive of students leaving their classrooms to attend vocal and instrumental lessons,” noted Frakes.
Both she and Curtis cited the important involvement of community groups who furnish tickets and transportation so that students may attend a ballet, an opera, a drama and a symphony orchestra performance by the time they have completed 6th grade.
An important part of the recent bond issue was providing separate band and vocal music rooms at both the middle school and high school and a new auditorium at the high school.
The combination means “Music in Mid-Prairie truly is a team effort and I think that’s why it’s so strong and worthy of being selected as the Exemplary Music Program for 1999-2000,” said Frakes.
The award is a travelling trophy that “will have Mid-Prairie’s name engraved on it. We get to keep it for a year,” she added.
“Thanks to campships provided by the Wellman Lions, the Music Boosters and several women’s federated clubs, Mid-Prairie has more students attend summer music camps than most schools its size. Usually 30 to 40 students,” said Curtis.
She added that “Mid-Prairie was the first in the state to have a gifted music program and ours has had the longest continuous existence. This program provides extra creative performance and composition opportunities for particularly talented students in grades 3-12. Administrative and classroom teacher support is necessary for the bussed, pullout program at the elementary. Parental transportation and car-pooling is essential for the before school program for grades 6-12,” added Curtis.
“We have a very dedicated group of music boosters who have helped purchase all seven pianos in the district, organized a successful $46,000 fund drive for choir robes and band uniforms in 1997, regularly pays for entry fees for various honor bands and choirs and for award letters, have purchased risers, choral shell, band instruments, provide manpower and food for receptions and dress rehearsals and provide something for each high school trip such as T-shirts, jackets, dinner theatre and more,” she continued.
She noted that coverage of music events in The Kalona News and Wellman Advance is important, that “We could not have raised $46,000 for uniforms without their weekly updates on donors and dollars.”
She concluded that “An award like this truly belongs to the entire school and community, for without classroom teachers’ flexibility, administrative backing, parental encouragement and transportation, and taxpayer and community financial support, the music staff could not do what is best for the students.”
All of which is what won it the “exemplary” distinction.
What about a second year?
“We’ll see,” replied Frakes.