Over the years, music has become a huge shared part of the human experience; and at IACS, this is especially true of the educational music program. Most people are involved in music at the school in some way, either by participating in the chorus program, taking a music class, or just by attending live music performances.
High School Chorus Teacher Sarah Mitchell has been an integral part of the program’s growth. Since the beginning of her time here, the choral program alone has expanded from a single 17-student ensemble to two groups consisting of 25-30 students each. She believes this split to be beneficial, as these groups can accomodate performers with different levels of skill and dedication. This makes the program a bit more competitive, which can be healthy practice for students wishing to pursue music in a professional setting.
Chorale students are a big part of the IACS music program, auditioning for Junior and Senior Districts each year, and traveling with their ensembles to nearby music festivals and performance opportunities. Senior Marci Zaccardi has accredited her growth as a performer to the school’s chorale, and specifically to Mitchell. Since her sophomore year, she has been an active participant in the chorus program. According to Zaccardi, the program has given her skills and interests she never would have thought of before, such as her newfound passion for singing opera. She’s also expressed gratitude to the program for allowing her the opportunity to get a scholarship for voice lessons in exchange for singing in a church choir.
Other students, like Sophomore Aria Zegdoun have focused more on the social aspect of the program. Zegdoun is grateful that the chorale provides her a place to see friends with whom she wouldn’t normally be able to interact during the school day. She also enjoys being able to challenge herself musically in a group environment, singing songs she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work on without the choral program.
Similarly, Junior Sonali Gurjar has also felt a sense of community within the music program. She’s taken advantage of her chorale class to befriend people with whom she shares interests. Although her overall experience wih the program has been good, she’s also felt as though it could still be improved upon. She expressed interest in the addition of extracurricular music activities, and in a high school instrumental program.
In the way of instrumental music, Sarah Mitchell has also seen the conception and expansion of the middle school band, of which Senior Alissa George is an active member. Like the chorus, the band began as one small group, and has grown into two separate ensembles, which each participate in three concerts per year. While older students have expressed a frustration with the lack of any instrumental programs in the high school, George has taken advantage of the opportunities she has.
However, students like Senior Nicholas Kaffine, also a senior, were completely unaware that this was an option available to them. Kaffine, an instrumentalist, hasn’t been very involved in the music program until the addition of the Garage Band choice block this year. This choice block, headed by new music teacher Julian Sciolla, allows students an in-school opportunity that Kaffine wishes he had more of. While an official after-school instrumental program might take a while to be realized, this choice block currently provides a place for students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate in music education at IACS.
As this is Sciolla’s first year with the school, he hasn’t been around for much of the initial growth of the program, but he was the one to introduce the Garage Band choice block, and he teaches new music technology classes. Like many teachers, Sciolla chose to work here because of the freedom he has to teach what he feels is important. This freedom, combined with the new scheduling system, has helped to make room for the program to grow. Although there is still much more we can do to offer a wide variety of options for students, there’s already plenty of opportunities for students to get involved in the music program.