2010 Essay Contest Winners

Mike Lawson • Features • February 9, 2011

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The following ten students are recipients of the 2010 essay scholarship, “I believe music must remain a part of the school curriculum because…”

Each student will receive a $1,000 scholarship award from SBO.

To the many thousands of students who entered the essay contest, and to their music directors, we thank you.

2010 Essay Scholarship Winners

Name: Christa Ray

Age: 17

Grade: 12

Chelsea High School

Chelsea, AL

I believe music must remain a part of the school curriculum because music accomplishes everything schools try to do: prepare students to face tomorrow’s challenges. Students learn responsibility, accountability, leadership skills, social skills, and diversity in music organizations. Music also provides an outlet for students to learn how to better themselves in every aspect of their lives. We not only deserve to know this for ourselves, but also know it in order to make our communities better. I have been in band for seven years and have been given some amazing opportunities. This year I served as Drum Major where I gained valuable leadership skills and social skills. Being Drum Major also taught me how to work with people and how to put the best interest of the group before my own interests. I also had the opportunity this summer to perform in a concert tour in Europe with the Alabama Ambassadors of Music. It really surprised me that no matter if we were in London, Paris, or Switzerland, that our music affected the people. Music is able to reach beyond any cultural difference or language barrier; it connects all the people of the world into one big family. Music has influenced my life for the better. No other organization can impact communities, prepare students, change lives, and unite people all around the world like music can. Music is not a class that only lasts for a semester or two, its lessons last for a lifetime.


Page Trotter

Age: 11

Grade: 6

McLean 6th Grade Center

Fort Worth, TX

I believe that music must remain a part of the school curriculum because music is a fun and unique way for an individual to express themselves and can be a strong part of a person. Music gives kids something to look forward to in the school day. If students are able to learn music, it may change their lives and their perspective of the world and what they decide to become of themselves when they get older. Whether it’s singing or playing a musical instrument, learning music is essential for a young mind because they can express their feelings and ideas of life in song. They can also develop their own individual and unique style of music. Meanwhile they learn musical content such as “harmony” and “beat” and learning how to read and write musical notes which can be useful in the future. Music is important to include in a student’s learning. It can be fun and very informative. It also helps students interact in a different way. Expressing yourself is important. Do it in your own fun and special way. Music is the answer. Let us keep our music!


Jasmine Snow

Age: 14

Grade: 8

Floyd Middle Magnet School

Montgomery, AL

I believe music must remain a part of the school curriculum because it is beneficial. Student participation in music activities has a positive effect on everything from academic achievement to self discipline. Music has the ability to facilitate language acquisition, reading readiness, and general intellectual development. Also, it fosters positive attitudes and lower truancy in middle and high schools. Music helps to enhance creativity, promote social development, adjust personality, and self worth. Through participation in school music programs, students gain a sense of discipline, self-esteem, and pride of accomplishment, and they learn to excel in teamwork, problem solving, leadership, and creative thinking. Music is very important and it should remain a part of the school curriculum.


Neydi Mendez

Age: 13

Grade: 8

Daniel Webster Middle School

Los Angeles, CA

I believe music must remain a part of the school curriculum because it helps students accomplish things they never knew they could. As a young woman I have many dreams, many goals, many things I want to accomplish. However some inconveniences stood in my way; lack of money for lessons was one of them. I wanted to prove that I could do something special. I wanted to show my talent. I wanted to be known, be someone. As a little girl my dream was to play an instrument. I loved the rich sound of the woodwinds, the way every note sounded so harshly elegant. I longed to play, but couldn’t. When I started school, I enrolled. I chose the clarinet for its lovely sound. The first time I saw it, held it, played it, I fell in love. I stuck to it, and made my dream come true. Time went by and graduation approached. I thought that meant leaving my dream behind, but Webster Middle School saved my dream, and I had another chance to play. This time it was different. This time I saw something new, something beautiful to my eyes. I was shiny and big; soft and loud. It was it; the saxophone. My dream lives on playing for people to see, and the music programs in my schools have made it possible. They encouraged me to be me, and let me live my dreams.


Sam Hoffman

Age: 17

Grade: 12

Marin School of the Arts

Novato, CA

Music embodies much of what we should value most in education: learning stimulated by genuine curiosity and wonder. There are no limits for how much one can achieve, no pre-determined answers, and no simple bubble-filled assessments that define ability and competence. Excellence in music is multi-dimensional and complex. In the quantitative, test score-obsessed realm that characterizes much of school today, pursuing authentic education can be quite a challenge. But music allows pursuit of something with boundless possibilities for improvement, creativity and knowledge, requiring multi-dimensional, complex abilities.  Music is a quintessential life-long learning experience. The benefits of technical mastery deepen with new experiences and perspectives; there are always new realms to explore. The qualities that support exemplary musicianship are the same qualities that support superior thinking. Talented musicians and gifted thinkers strive for technical mastery, developing good coordination and flexibility, cultivating and articulating thoughts, and amassing diverse information and a solid, well-rounded and expansive foundation of knowledge. Talented thinkers and musicians strive for creative integrity and conviction; neither tries to do or be things they are not. The goal of thinking and of music in not to reproduce what someone else has already done, but to create mediums in which people share unique perspectives and, also, to collaborate. Technical expertise gives life to great music, but that is not enough. Practice, diversity, emotion, life experience, improvisation, history, and collaboration combine to expand its impact and relevance; few things in school or life offer as much potential for deep and meaningful learning.


Gabrielle Duran

Age: 17

Grade: 12

Watkins Overton High

Memphis, TN

I believe music must remain a part of the school curriculum because it reaches students in a way that grammar, textbooks, reports, and numbers do not. At the end of the day, expression through music is the relief that students need after their minds have grown tired of disengaging lectures, lessons, and written work. Not only can practicing an instrument build skill, but it also teaches patience. Students develop an appreciation for music and discover their own style of musical expression. There is no experience more rewarding than performing on stage and being moved by the music you make. It is even more rewarding when your audience is just also inspired. For example, in the spring of 2009, the Watkins Overton High Wind Ensemble, from a virtually unknown program travelled hundreds of miles from its hometown of Memphis, Tennessee to compete in the Bluebonnet Classic Musical Festival held in San Antonio, Texas. Overton was the underdog of the competition. However, thanks to long hours of rehearsal, individual practice, and a passion for music, Overton won first place in musical performance, first place in its class, and first place in show. Never could textbooks provoke such a feeling of accomplishment that my peers and I experienced in San Antonio, and we owe it all to music.


Jessica Roederer

Age: 13

Grade: 8

Hebron Middle School

Shepherdsville, KY 

I believe music must stay a part of school curriculum for several reasons. One is the connection you have with others around you. You can communicate with everyone in a simple way. My favorite teacher I ever had was my 6th and 7th grade music teacher. He improved our skills and gave us something to be proud of, which helped our relationships with each other and the community around us. Over the past few years as I become more involved in music, my self-confidence has increased because I feel like I have a place where I belong. Music is also important for grades. It has been proven that students that take part in a musical arts activity have higher test scores than those who don’t. Sometimes music does what others cannot see. There are days when the academic stress of a school day can make you feel terrible. An hour of focusing on music can be like cool water in the desert. It leaves you refreshed and ready to focus on the schoolwork ahead, which improves grades. I feel that music can help all students, and should definitely be kept in school curriculum.


Kolton Stewart

Age: 10

Grade: 5

St. Francis Cabrini

Delhi, ON, Canada 

At my house we have a poster that says: “In music there is harmony and in harmony there is peace”. I am a musician and play percussion and guitar. I have played in a community band and competitive bands since I was five years old. I used to worry a lot and teachers were concerned about my anxiety. But being in a band helped me to feel included and gave me a sense of belonging. It helped my anxiety go away because I believed in myself. High school students became my mentors and helped me read music—they never treated me any different from the rest of the band members. I learned what it meant to be included.

There are many school programs that have been cut and music programs need to be part of the curriculum because music teaches literacy, patterns, numeracy and helps students to organize, problem solve and set goals. There is only a small part of the curriculum in elementary school that supports music but students really love it and want to see it continue.

I believe music has to remain a part of the curriculum because music builds confidence, motivates students to succeed and teaches respect. I have played in bands where people speak only a little English—yet we all play the same language and have created beautiful music. Music teaches respect and inclusion. Music appreciates differences in people because it respects personalities and builds self esteem. Music should remain in the curriculum because it speaks to the brain but also to the heart.


Audrey Wozniak

Age: 16

Grade: 12

St. Stephen’s Episcopal School

Austin, TX 

Music must remain a part of the school curriculum because it plays a critical role in uniting individuals, communities and cultures. My school is known for its diversity; it is a boarding and day school whose students come from fifty countries from around the globe. Many of my classmates do not speak English as a first language. However, music brings my school’s community together through ensembles and performances. Students of many origins collaborate to create music, and often teachers attend performances to support their pupils. In middle school, I found my first friends in orchestra, and developed relationships with people I might not have approached otherwise. My school faculty selected me to represent the school as an exchange student in Tokyo in a Japanese high school for my sophomore year, despite the fact that I had no prior knowledge of Japanese. In my first few months overseas, I struggled to communicate with my classmates and host family. I took violin lessons with a Japanese teacher who spoke no English, and it seemed we had no way to understand each other. However, I soon realized music conveyed my teacher’s messages better than language could. After a lesson one day, I returned to my host family’s home and observed the depth of emotions that can be shared through music. I pulled out my violin, played for my host mother, and saw her start to cry. During my time abroad, I discovered that music permeates all boundaries; it truly is the “universal language.”


Truc Pham

Age: 14

Grade: 9

Laguna Creek High School

Elk Grove, CA

I believe music must remain a part of the school curriculum because it contributes and intertwines with the rest of our lives. Music inspires us to come out of our shells and show everyone who we are. It is the gift of self expression, without physical means, that should be available to every student. Based on scientific studies, music students are more likely to be successful in high school and for the rest of their lives than regular students. Music is also physical because we are required to sustain long periods without breathing while marching to formations on a field or down a street for a community parade. As a freshman in high school, I began the year intimidated by the 16 and 17 year olds, avoiding any type of communication. Today, we band together as a family, going through all the ups and downs with each other. As a band, we have been taught lessons of teamwork, responsibility, perseverance, self discipline, communication, leadership, the positive results of hard work, and not just how to play an instrument. Without our music class, we would never meet so many accepting people and really learn and contribute to so much to our high school lives. Music lets us all see the world without using our eyes. It lets our community look at us and be proud of what we do. It gives students a feeling of pride and accomplishment. Most importantly, it brings everyone together. Music is a necessity to our school curriculum.

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