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School music classes opened to community

March is national “Music in the Schools” month, and parents and community members are cordially invited to “sit in” on a local music class. The yearly event, sponsored by the Music Educators National Conference (www.MENC.org) involves thousands of music programs and hundreds of thousands of students.

Locally, parents have been invited to drop in and observe a music class at any Hood River school. Hood River Valley High music director Mark Steighner said that parents may be surprised to find that music classes “aren’t just about learning notes and rhythms. Our curriculum is much richer than that. We teach not just performance, but aesthetics and music history.” Even at the elementary school level, students learn about the composers and cultures that create musical works. By the time students reach the high school level, many are headed towards careers in the arts and are writing and recording their own music, in addition to performing in traditional ensembles.

This is a busy month or two for local music programs, with many contests, festivals, and other performances planned. “We’d love to have parents come in and observe, even join in!” Steighner said. “We are fortunate that many parents and community members have shown strong support for music and arts programs.”

Recently, John Jacobson’s fruit sales for music programs at Rosauers have netted over $3,200 for secondary music programs, and a gift to the Hood River Education Foundation for the HRVHS music program allowed the purchase of jawline microphones, a new baritone sax and a bass clarinet.

“These were, literally, the first new instruments purchased by the high school in well over a decade. This is an indication of strong support.” Even so, Steighner adds, there is room to grow all of the schools’ music programs.

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