LETTER: Band, Chorus, Strings Enrich Education in Greenwich Schools

Submitted by Cathy M Dillon

Where are we in the evolution of education since 1780?  A quote from John Adams, in a letter to his wife Abigail Adams (12 May, 1780) outlines a three-generational vision for educational progress.  

Adams writes, “… I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematics and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematics and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, Navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine.”

For school year 2019-20 the course offerings at Greenwich High School, together with the faculty and facility were impressive. In the Music Department alone, there was depth, breadth, and variety; all offered with academic rigor and standards of excellence. The offerings in the Arts at GHS supported John Adams’ goals, 240 years later.

In the time of COVID 2020, the planned suspension within our music programs endangers Adams’ vision. There would be No Band, No Chorus, No Strings for preK-8. Children would be offered general music only. It is unthinkable to remove the programs and course offerings that truly enrich the very fabric of education in this district and which inherently provide authentic social and emotional learning.

In the time of Covid 2020, 52 leading educational organizations agree that Arts Education Is Essential.

The three pillars are:

  • Arts education supports the social and emotional well-being of students, whether through distance learning or in person.
  • Arts education nurtures the creation of a welcoming school environment where students can express themselves in a safe and positive way.
  • Arts education is part of a well-rounded education for all students as understood and supported by federal and state policymakers.

“Every student regardless of background must receive a complete and well balanced program.  Maintaining the arts in the schools is critical to continue to help our students with their educational and social and emotional learning, especially for those students in need of support in these difficult times.”

National Association for Music Education, 2020

Education that supports the Arts supports the students. Social Emotional Learning is embedded within music programs.

Selarts.org illuminates the natural intersections of Music + SEL, and clarifies essential questions and understandings.

It is not solely a cumulative performance, such as the end of the year concert that provides evidence of the power of membership in a performing group. The genuine and enduring relationships developed through continuity within a strong program connect us all.

As a member of the public or as concerned member of the musical community you can use the one stop email: [email protected], which automatically copies to the Superintendent of Schools (Mrs) Dr. Toni Jones and all the members of the Board of Education. 

Cathy McGovern Dillon
Old Greenwich Resident, Musician, Music Educator, GPS Alumni, and Parent Alumni