Ichabod music program receives national recognition

KINDERHOOK – The Ichabod Crane Central School District has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.

Now in its 21st year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. To qualify for the Best Communities designation, the district answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities and support for the music program. All responses were verified by school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

The award recognizes that the district is leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the legislation that replaces No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). NCLB faced criticism for an emphasis on a testing model that sidelined subjects such as music, where ESSA recommends music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education.

A 2015 study supported by NAMM – “Striking A Chord,” – outlined the desire by teachers and parents for music education opportunities as part of the school curriculum.

The Ichabod Music Department offers a comprehensive program that “promotes a love of music while teaching students to be independent musicians,” according to a press release. The department includes music teachers: Amy Giammattei, Jennifer Edwards, Jodie Jacque, Karolyn Eberhardt, Rukan Khondker, Alessandra Shellard, and Olivia Faure. Recent retirees include Robert Richburg, David Bulan, Dianne Rieck, and Gail Helfer.

“To say that I am proud of our music program winning the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education, would be an understatement. I have seen the impact our music department has had with so many of our students over the years, but even more so as a parent of four students who have benefitted from our program,” Ichabod Crane Middle School Co-principal Tim Farley said in the release. he added, “This award gives great validation to all the dedication of our music teachers over the years to make it the best music program for students.”

“With help from my teachers, I embraced the fact that there is always room to improve and you have to work to do so. By the time I got into high school, I had truly found my place; music. Music at Ichabod has helped me through so much in finding out who I am and who I can become. I go to school every day smiling because I know that once I enter the music suite doors, I can leave all the drama from the outside world behind me and immerse myself in the music. I have even met some of my best friends through music,” sophomore music student Julia Saxby said in the release.

At Ichabod Crane, three quarters of the K-12 student population participate in music each year. The district is represented at the state, regional, and county levels. Two music students – Michael Vecellio and Erin Curry – were selected to represent Ichabod Crane at the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) All-State Festival in Rochester. Seven high school students were selected to participate in Area-All-State. 84 instrumental and 66 vocal students were selected to participate in All-County Festivals this year.

The Ichabod music program underwent recent improvements such as updating the K-8 General Music Curriculum to include more music technology and the addition of ukulele instruction in grades 6-8. The department hopes to add more electives at the high school level and is working on offering a music course for college credit this fall.

A crucial part of the music program is TEMPO (To Encourage Music Participation Organization), a local parent/community organization that fosters enthusiasm for music and the performing arts. They support the music program in a variety of ways including advocating for music education, making the needs of the students and program known to the community, helping with in-school and public music events and fundraising.

Ichabod Crane graduates have attended music schools such as the Manhattan School of Music, Ithaca College, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, SUNY Potsdam, SUNY Fredonia, SUNY New Paltz, Bard Conservatory, Nazareth, Wagner, NYU, Hartwick, Berklee College of Music, Hartt School of Music, Schenectady Community College, East Carolina University, Shenandoah Conservatory, University of Washington, and the College of St. Rose. Graduates of ICC work in the fields of music education, music performance, opera, musical theatre, music business/management, music/audio production and recording, musical composition, and music therapy.

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