The Michael O’Neal Singers will be presenting Hear the Future! on Sunday, April 25, at 3:00 PM at Roswell United Methodist Church. This pairing of high school and adult musicians is a tremendous way to showcase our musicians of tomorrow. (Of course, that’s not entirely correct, since these young people are also our musicians of today!) Susan McLeish, one of our faithful MOS members and a teacher in the Gwinnett County School System has written a letter to Governor Perdue and our Georgia Legislators informing them of this concert and inviting them to attend. I believe it to be such a fine and well worded statement that I wanted to share it with you.
April 21, 2010
Dear Governor Perdue and Georgia Legislators,
Have you heard a 90-piece high school orchestra perform lately? How about a 180-voice choir? The opportunity awaits you this weekend.
As you contemplate state budget cuts and their accompanying difficult issues, please take the time to come to Roswell this Sunday afternoon, April 25, to see and hear firsthand how crucial the arts and arts education are to a community.
This Sunday, The Michael O’Neal Singers, an auditioned symphony chorus, and three Fulton County high school groups (2 choruses and one orchestra) will combine talents to bring some spectacular music to life. We would be both honored and grateful to have you in our midst, and you can be guaranteed the perfect environment in which to sit, relax, and ponder the role of the arts, specifically music, in the lives of all participants, both those on stage and in the audience.
I happen to be a Georgia educator, and I see evidence of the importance of the arts in students’ lives on a daily basis. The obvious examples are the artwork on the bulletin boards throughout the school, the drama presentations that draw huge student interest and participation, and the myriad of musical opportunities offered both before and after school. Our fine arts teachers work tirelessly to flavor the students’ lives with color, texture, expression, melody, harmony and rhythm. The very first sounds that greet me upon entering the school building every morning are those of budding instrumentalists who pour their youthful energy into growing their talent. This is in stark contrast to the students who sit idle in the cafeteria, waiting for the same forty-five minutes to pass before homeroom starts.
However, it is not just the students’ musical talent that is being developed through the arts. Academic teachers can almost always tell which students play in an ensemble or perform on stage because fine arts students have learned how to engage meaningfully in the learning process. They know how to practice and persevere. They understand that progress can be slow, and that success is not instant. All of this ultimately translates into increased student achievement because the students have learned how to be participants in the classroom, not just spectators. They have learned to become productive learners, not just receptive.
Receptive learning requires only receptive language; it is the language of standardized testing, which does not require a student to originate an idea or answer, but rather to merely recognize it when they see it. Productive learning, on the other hand, requires productive language where students must write or speak to answer questions or offer ideas. In other words, a form of energy must be present. It is at this point that synthesis takes place and true leaning occurs. Students who have been given the opportunity to participate in performance-based learning both understand and benefit from this dynamic. Our fine arts classrooms are, therefore, incubators for nurturing thriving learners.
Another dynamic you will see at Sunday’s concert is the joy of life-long learning. The high school students and the adults will be performing side by side, breathing energy—together—into a musical manuscript written over 200 years ago. I cannot think of any other community event that would bring over 130 high school students into contact with 130 adults (ranging in age from young professionals to retirees) in such an authentic way.
The concert will be synthesis at its best; you wouldn’t want to miss it. Please come!
Susan M. McLeish, Soprano II and French Teacher, Gwinnett County Public Schools
Filed under: Choral experiences | Tagged: Governor Perdue, Gwinnett County Public Schools, MOS, Roswell UMC | Leave a Comment »