From Lassen County Times comes this exciting news!! :
Susanville Symphony Society announces formation of music academy
June 15, 2010 — It has been in the works for several months, and today, Tuesday, June 15, the Susanville Symphony Society Board of Directors announces it plans to open a music academy to supplement music in the schools.
"We hope that the formation of the Susanville Symphony's Academy of Music can show the rest of the country what a small community can do to fill the void of music in our schools and encourage other communities to do the same,” said Ray White, board president. “A great spirit and pride resides in the people of Susanville and we must not let the gift of music and the arts disappear from our children's lives forever."
When Susanville Symphony Society incorporated as a 501 (C) 3 its mission, objective and purpose continues to be the same seven years later. The society wants to provide an outstanding community symphony, a medium of expression for talented musicians, and a cultural and educational music resource to the community, and to contribute to the cultural and educational vitality of Northeastern California. The Susanville Symphony Society is formed under the California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation Law.
Until recently one the main ways the society has provided support for music in the Lassen County schools has been the creation of the Youth Orchestra project. This project brought together young musicians and “rusty” musicians together to learn music, how to play as an orchestra and perform before an audience. Musicians who reach a certain caliber are then encouraged to try out for the Susanville symphony.
The society also provides scarce resources as broadly as possible to the students as an adjunct to State Education Code-based programs.
Carol Fontana, a long-time music teacher and a board member said from her experience music education enhances children’s lives and that music ultimately enhances their community as well.
“The academy dream, which is about ready to come to fruition is to provide children and interested adults with music instruction,” said Fontana. “It’s something that many schools can’t afford to give right now with the state’s tough financial choices.”
Studies have proven music education helps students in other academic endeavors, but when faced with budget shortfalls, the state Legislature and in turn local school board’s cut music from the school day first, Fontana added saying she has experienced first hand being on the receiving end of budget cuts.
The Academy of Music will continue this tradition, providing a foundation for music education in Lassen County as well as offering higher levels of music education not available in public schools. It will be a valuable supplement to the music programs in the schools that have suffered from a loss of funding.
“The California budget crises is devastating programs and services for our students,” said Zach Thurman, superintendent of the Janesville Union Elementary School District “In recent years we have eliminated 12 positions and thus, services for our students. We’ve reduced services in our library and computer lab and Class Size Reduction has virtually been eliminated.
“One casualty of this budget crisis is the loss of our music/band program. It saddens me that the state refuses to provide funding for performing arts programs. We have to fundraise and virtually beg for money so we can keep some portion of our music program for the 2010-2011 school year.”
The California State Board of Education has established academic content standards for Visual and Performing Arts in kindergarten through 12th grade and as a result expects the local school to offer education in those areas.
However, as the community is all too aware, the state of California has grossly neglected the funding needed to accomplish these standards said Dr. Tom Gauthier, one of the adjunct members of the society’s music academy committee.
From year to year music programs for the students of Lassen County have come and gone, thrived and disappeared, as impacted by available funding.
“We’ve seen a relentless erosion of the most basic funding for California’s public schools that has pitted school districts’ desires to provide rich programs for music and art against the need for economic survival,” said Dr. Gary McIntire, superintendent of the Susanville School District. “During this time of limited funding, the Susanville School District has worked to preserve and strengthen our reading and math instruction, leaving little or no funds to provide even a most basic music program.”
The Susanville Symphony Academy of Music is designed to provide Lassen County students – and adults — with a sustainable program of music education not subject to the vagary of the state programs, said Gauthier.
The Academy does not compete with any school programs, but rather supplements and expands opportunities for music education.
The curriculum of the academy responds directly to the State Board of Education academic content standards for music and the performing arts and a faculty of accomplished musicians with outstanding academic credentials will teach the classes.
The Susanville Symphony has built its reputation on high levels of professional talent, ethics and performance skills, developed in an atmosphere of continuous improvement under strong leadership. The academy will offer no less of an opportunity for students.
"I am very excited to be a major part of the academy. It makes sense for this community, and for the Susanville Symphony, to forge ahead with support and education for young music lovers in Lassen County,” said Artistic Director and Conductor Benjamin J. Wade.
“With music being in a precarious state across the nation, and with budgets being cut, I feel that we will be able to step in and fill in the gaps in regards to music education.
"The vision that the Susanville Symphony has in terms of classical music in Lassen County is the same pioneering spirit I see in this academy. Passion, commitment to excellence, new horizons, excitement and fun are just a few of the elements we will bring to music education in Lassen County," Wade added.
An informational meeting and pre-registration is being finalized with hopes for classes to begin in the fall or early 2011. Details will be announced tuition fees, location and school times to be discussed.
The curriculum plans to cover three levels of skills. The beginning level will will be called instrument zoo, where each student experiments with a variety of instruments — from strings (violins, violas), winds (clarinet, flute, saxophone) to brass (trumpets, French horn, tubas). They will then choose a primary instrument and begin to study rhythm, pitch and tone quality.
Students will advance to the next level after a faculty evaluation. Intermediate level classes will also add music history and ensemble play. Chamber and orchestra performance also is taught.
The advanced level focuses on small group and individual performance, with emphasis on musicality, balance, intonation and advanced instrument techniques. Students at the advanced level may also choose to study conduction and music composition.
The Academy of Music promotes enriched instruction and provides the opportunity of music performance to every student in Lassen County, including charter school and home schooled, as well as interested adults.
Current board members of the Susanville Symphony Society are Ray White, Cheryl Holmes, Dick Bendix, John Auman, Eric Toews, Matt Mullin, Carol Fontana, Mike Smith, David Stillwagon and Barbara France. Executive Director is Dana Hirsche. Check out susanvillesymphony.com for more information on the orchestra.
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