The Power of Music

Thomas Palmatier • May 2022Perspective • May 2, 2022

We’re pleased to bring you the first in a multi-part series looking at trends in the wind orchestra compiled by Johan de Meij and featuring leading composers and conductors from around the world. Our June issue will bring you the winners of the annual SBO essay contest and will also discuss how travel can be a vital part of your music education program.

This space is usually devoted to highlighting what’s in this issue of SBO, but there are other much more important things to focus on. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions of refugees have been displaced in a brutal and pointless war. While I do not have family in that part of the world, it’s very personal to me, nonetheless. While I was commander of the U.S. Army Europe Band & Chorus, I performed in every country in Eastern Europe. Standing room audiences were the norm and the audiences included many young people anxious to hear live music. The parents of many of those young people had grown up in a repressive and fearful society, much like the one trying to be imposed on the Ukrainian people today. After having lived in a free country, the people of Eastern Europe will never go back, no matter how many bombs are dropped.

Ukrainian woman holds her three children all sad from being forced to flee their home country and become refugees.

Despite the horrors of warfare, we have seen so many examples of musicians bringing solace to others. The soloist performing in an underground shelter to soothe frightened children. The string quartet performing for workers as they clear rubble and search for survivors.  The Youth Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine who were evacuated with their instruments with assistance from classical music groups in Europe. All these instances speak to the power of music, and we must rededicate ourselves to sharing that gift with as many people as we can whether young or old or rich or poor.

This issue will highlight ways to sustain student progress over the summer. Performing in a community band or orchestra, attending music camps or workshops, and preparing for marching band camp are all parts of this effort. We feature two school music programs with award-winning marching bands where the marching ensembles are an integrated part of a total music program. Our terrific contributors help us to use the end of the school year and the summer to get next year off to a roaring start!

Col. (Ret.) Thomas Palmatier

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