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MMF president discusses Music In Our Schools Month with Massena board of education

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MASSENA - It’s Music In Our Schools Month, and the president of the Massena Music Friends says it’s an active one for the Massena Central School District’s performers.

Paul A. Haggett told board of education members this week that since 1985March had been set aside by the National Association of Music Education to “highlight the important role school music and school music educators play in the lives of our students.”

He said there were three “major ways” in which Massena Central School Music Department staff and students celebrated the month.

“First is the annual Pops Concert. It’s an event separate from the winter and spring concerts. It focuses on select instrumental and choral and the performance of various popular music styles,” Mr. Haggett said.

The second event has been an annual tour of district schools by the high school Select Group. That took place Thursday and Friday.

“This involved the Jazz Ensemble, numerous vocal groups and cast members of the music production performance for students at the elementary schools and Leary Junior High. It’s a great opportunity for younger students to get a glimpse of what awaits them when they get to high school and continue their involvement in school music,” Mr. Haggett said.

“From a program perspective, the tour is an invaluable tool for recruiting students into the program. From the student perspective, they always enjoy the opportunity to see their former elementary teachers and junior high teachers,” he said.

The final event of Music In Our Schools Month is the annual spring production. This year’s performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” will be staged March 28-29.

“Here is where the entire community comes out to have a look at the very best the district has to offer live on stage. That this school has a tradition of incredible school musicals that it does is a blessing for every student that comes through the program,” Mr. Haggett said.

He also assists with the spring production, performing in the pit with other musicians.

“Speaking a little more personally, there’s no more time that I feel I can better spend or find more rewarding than the time I’ve spent accompanying these students in the pit over the last several years,” he said.

The Massena Music Friends have stayed busy, not only during Music In Our Schools Month, but throughout the school year, according to the group’s president.

“We initiated an essay contest with prizes available to students at each school building who write the most thoughtful music-related essays,” he said, noting they hope to have those published in the paper.

Massena Music Friends is also in the process of gathering trophies and awards won by the school’s music groups over the years so those can be displayed in the high school.

“We’re organizing them in their own dedicated display in the high school. We hope it’s a precursor to an eventual Massena High School Music Hall of Fame,” Mr. Haggett said.

Members of Massena Music Friends will also be interviewing music staff members and profiling them on their website at www.mcsmusicfriends.org, as well as assisting in aspects of “Fiddler on the Roof,” such as set builders, musicians and costumers.

And, Mr. Haggett said, “Since pit musicians play for the kids, not for the money or the glory, Massena Music Friends is making sure there is plenty of tasty food available for pit musicians and the kids.”

The non-profit group, which was organized in October 2010, has also done two fundraisers this school year, with plans for a third in April. Their goal is to do things for the music program above and beyond what the district’s budget will allow.

Mr. Haggett said they held a Cabaret in Novembe, and also benefited from an Orchestra of Northern New York holiday concert in December.

They plan to have a Trivia Night April 26 at Dar’s Place, at a cost of $80 a team, which will help the music program.

“We do have plans for additional instrument purchases as a result of this year’s fundraisers,” he said.

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