Education is more than the MCAS scores


If there were an exam dedicated to music, the students of Turkey Hill Middle School in Lunenburg, Massaschusetts would have achieved a perfect score based on their performance this evening. Under the direction of , the 5th, 6th, and 7th grade bands and chorus played together for the very first time this evening.  It was not the  or the , but it was a group of kids and a teacher who clearly enjoyed the evening!.  The packed house at laughed and clapped their way through the evening displaying pride in the children of our small community.

So why was this evening so successful?  What is Mr. A teaching exactly?  Some would say he teaches music.  Based on the results this evening and the stories I hear from my daughter, I believe he is educating our children in areas well beyond the notes and instruments.

Here is what I think the children are getting from Mr. A’s approach:

  • Confidence: the auditorium was completely packed with parents, friends and siblings this evening.  Despite this, Mr. A clearly instilled the confidence in the performers necessary to put themelves out there.
  • An ability to come together to do something special:   Mr. Archambault pointed out the fact that the students had never actually practiced together prior to this evening.  Despite this, the children came together and played their parts with a few little bumps in the road. Think about how this prepares our children for life in the real world!
  • Humor: The conductor took us through the journey the students have been on for the first half of the year starting with day one.  The band played a loud group of notes which resembled nothing but noise….the parents laughed.  Mr. A laughed and the students laughed at themselves.  The kids learned it is ok to make mistakes and have a laugh at yourself once in a while.
  • Technology: Mr. A incorporates technology whenever he can to help the .  This was not as evident during the evening but my daughter will frequently come home to share a new “cool” thing she learned on the MAC.  These “cool” things are always related to the topic.  The students learn about music and how to use technology without ever realizing it!
  • Storytelling:  Mr A took us through a journey of how his students/our children went from making noise to playing ‘s ““.
  • Oh,….yeah…music:  I almost forgot.  The children actually sang and played songs on their instruments!  That was a nice bonus.

As I think about the fact that we removed music from our primary school last year to help with the budget gap, I find myself thinking what a supremely bad idea that was.  As we move into the budget process for next year, we need to find a way to bring back to our primary school not for my last bullet point but rather to provide children the opportunity to grow in ways that will prepare them for life beyond the walls of the Lunenburg Public Schools.

What do you think?

5 thoughts on “Education is more than the MCAS scores

  1. Anonymous on said:

    As a parent I very simply want my children exposed to music. It is such a beautiful part of our world. As you stated, Mr. A taught the THMS band and chorus so much more than just playing or singing a note. Looking at it from an educational perspective, there is a great deal of research about music and learning. Studies on the effects of music training on brain, behavioral and cognitive development in young children. Research demonstrating how training in music can improve math skills- rhythm, counting, notes, sequential skills- processing these aspects of music helps our brain process mathematics. Also, studies on music as therapy, but didn’t we already know that the first time we hummed to our newborn baby to help soothe them? Providing musical training for all students may not be a possibility, but any exposure may stimulate a desire in a child to explore further. When a child is motivated to do anything, the possibilities are endless.

    • WB on said:

      I agree, music in the primary school is imperative for neural integration. At this young age children are still forming neurons that will help them think with both their brain’s left hemisphere and right hemisphere. It also encourages body movement, motor skills. The list goes on and on. When I found out we wouldn’t have music in the Primary school I immediately thought of ways this could be addressed. Could we take on a college student in need of practicum hours? Was a part time person out of the question? I hope an opportunity will present itself to us for the next school year.

  2. Mike Clark on said:

    Lets face it MCAS was the liberals idea to throw their buddies in the Curriculum Industry a big fat bonus. Our local liberals need to dialog with our state rep Jen Benson and get her to start talking about the enormous drain on school resources that this testing standard takes.

  3. Mr & Mrs Archambault on said:

    As proud parents of Mr. A, we can attest to his love of music from the first time he pick up
    his clarinet in elementary school. My wife encouraged him but I thought he could put his
    energy into a more prestigious profession. He once told my wife that he’d be happiest
    teaching music than anything else. During his senior year in high school, I told him that I
    would accept his choice of becoming a music teacher on the condition that he could conduct the
    orchcetra in a concert of Tcaikovshy’s Overture of 1812. At his final senior school concert, Mr.
    Tom Henson announced that one of his student would conduct the final piece of the evening.
    Mr. A got up on the poduim and he said he dedicated this final piece to his father and then
    conducted the orchestra in his version of the Overture. I was stunned to say the least.
    The rest is history.

    • Brendan Grady on said:

      Excellent response! My daughter is a big fan of Mr. A!!

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