WHS faculty and staff celebrate “Music in Our Schools Month”

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Photo by Darren Finkel

Darren Finkel playing in his band

Kathryn Bartlett and Tate Fallon

March marks Music in Our Schools Month (MIOSM), the National Association for Music Education’s effort to spread support of music education and the benefits that come from it. In order to celebrate the event, Band Director Chris Vitale requested that teachers with any past musical experience (whether as a student or an adult) submit photos and descriptions of their involvement with music. The photos and stories will eventually be shared on the WHS Band, Choir and Orchestra Facebook pages, as well as in music classes.

Vitale thought of the idea after receiving an email from a teacher who shared that he played the trombone in high school. “It just occurred to me that there must be a lot of teachers who either played an instrument or sang in choir or got involved with music as an adult,” said Vitale. “I thought it might be cool to point that out to our students because it both normalizes it and portrays music as a lifelong outlet, even if you don’t go into it professionally.”

English Teacher Darren Finkel was one of many teachers excited to share, as guitar has been his lifelong hobby. Finkel learned the instrument as a teenager and currently plays bass guitar for the alternative rock band Exit Eleven, which performs both covers and original songs at local venues. Finkel particularly enjoys playing classic rock, and his favorite bands to cover include Dave Matthews Band and Mumford and Sons.

“Playing guitar has been ‘instrumental’ in creating my sense of equanimity,” said Finkel. “I use the guitar to relieve stress and find peace and happiness.”

Finkel also brings this mindset into his classroom on a regular basis. Each Friday, his students engage in a game of “Name that Tune” to celebrate the end of the week.

“Not only is being able to play an instrument a wonderful skill, listening to music brings joy and happiness to a lot of people,” said Finkel. “I think any celebration of music is a beautiful thing.”

While the transition to distance learning brings challenges to WHS’s celebration of MIOSM, Vitale plans to continue the project to the best of his abilities. All submissions received will still be shared on Facebook for students to enjoy from their homes.

Vitale emphasized the importance of the project. “We’re fortunate that at WHS, music can be an integral part of a lot of students’ education,” explained Vitale. “But it’s really important that everyone, including those who are not in music classes, take[s] time to recognize how important music is to our lives.”