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Starting in the 2015-2016 school year, the

school board has proposed that every


student who fails ISTEP will be pulled
from the band classroom for a semester,
to participate in remediation.
While we at the Ball State Middle School band program
understand the importance of core subjects, we completely
object to students being pulled from their arts courses for a
semester of remedial work.

So what does this mean for your student?


Depending on the subject failed your child will be pulled
from band during the fall or spring semester. For
students starting band this year, they will either enter
the classroom a semester late, or only have half a year
of instruction.
At the middle school we strive to make our classroom
as comprehensive as possible. Music and reading are
incorporated into the band classroom setting daily.
o Students are put in situations where they can
apply math in a real life setting. In music we need
to divide, use fractions, and recognize patterns,
concepts that are regularly tested on the ISTEP
test.
o Reading and writing have a permanent place in
the music classroom. Throughout the semester
students participate in various projects that
connect literature to music. Writing prompts are
given each semester on a musically relevant topic.
To view examples of our students work please visit our
website at www.bsmsbands.com
For further reading, I have found these websites and
articles offer many comprehensive ideas for
incorporating core subjects into the music classroom.

o http://www.naeyc.org/files/yc/file/201201/Geist_Pat
terns_of_Music_Jan012.pdf
o http://www.musicandliterature.org/

Based on the testimony given by my


colleagues it is clear that removing students
from band for remedial classes is harmful to
students academic and social development.
Just because students are in a band setting
does not mean they are restricted to just
learning about music; we strive to make our
classrooms as comprehensive as possible.
Today I would like to share with you some
examples of how music is connected to the
core subjects that ISTEP tests in the classroom.
Music and math have a strong connection, for
without time, music would fall apart.
Fundamental math skills, such as counting,
adding, subtracting, dividing are used
whenever a student reads a piece of music.
Noticing and creating patterns in Math is an
essential skill that can be fostered through
patterns of rhythms and notes that students
play. Through call and response patterns,
students learn about sequences and symmetry.
Time signatures are indicated in the form of
fractions. Students learn the distance between
pitches through series of whole and half steps,
a concept that is also explained through

fractions. Math is mostly a theoretical study of


numbers, but music allows students to
experience these theories in an active manner.
Music often tells a story, and through proper
teaching, literature and writing connections
can be made in the music classroom. During
this past concert cycle, my students were
playing the piece Rest, by Frank Tichelli,
based on a poem by Sarah Teasdale. Students
discussed how they felt the music reflected the
text and then wrote their own poetry based on
the music. Students in our jazz band recently
did research projects on various performers,
using different media as sources and
structuring their information into a cohesive
paper with proper citations. Examples of all of
these works, as well as other comprehensive
lesson plans can be found on the band
programs website.
Finally, many students who perform poorly on
standardized tests have grasped the material,
but due to crippling test anxiety wind up in
remediation. Performances are a large part of
the band programs, and we work with students
in groups, or individually to address and
conquer performance anxiety issues that
transfer into their test-taking.

You will notice that I have not said that band


can replace a remedial course; I do not believe
that to be true, some students do need this
rigorous help. My point is merely that the
music classroom teaches students core skills in
ways that differ from the traditional math and
English setting, and may be a students only
chance to fully comprehend the material. You
will find there is no reason for students to be
pulled from band for a semester to learn core
skills that are already being incorporated into
the classroom.