GASD survey finds strong support for fifth grade band program

Responses from fourth and fifth graders and their parents to surveys sent out by the Greater Amsterdam School District music department indicate strong support for re-instating the fifth grade band instrument program which was effectively cut from the current school year’s budget by not hiring a new teacher to replace the retiring high school band director.

Stefanie Dykeman, a GASD music teacher who also serves as the music department’s curriculum coordinator, compiled and shared the results with the district board members and superintendent earlier this week in anticipation of upcoming budget discussions. Dykeman said approximately 100 responses from students and the same number of responses from parents were collected from January 26 to February 4.

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Nearly 95% of the responses from parents indicated they were either definitely or possibly interested in having their child take music lessons. Asked if they would like to see lessons start in elementary school, 96.8% said yes. Asked what grade they would prefer lessons to start, 86.2% indicated they preferred the fourth grade, 8.5% preferred the fifth grade, and 5.3% preferred the sixth grade. Lessons to fourth grade students have not been offered by the district in recent years.

Some of the additional comments submitted by parents through the survey included:

I learned how to play an instrument when I was her age. It helps the child to be more independent and creative. Better self expression

My children have always been interested in music/singing and learning an instrument and I was extremely disappointed that my current 5th grader was not afforded that opportunity. I feel the earlier you learn how to play an instrument and be part of a group the better you will be.

I truly believe that music is a very important part of our lives. The benefits of learning to play an instrument goes far beyond learning to read music. I hope GASD will reinstate the band program and start the program even earlier.

Responses from students showed similar sentiment. 91.3% of fourth graders responded yes or maybe to the question as to whether they wished they had an elementary school band program, and a solid 97.4% of fifth graders responded yes to the same question.

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Written responses to the survey question “why do you want to be in band?” included:

I would want to be in 5th grade band because I love music and I love playing instruments and to be able to play my favorite instrument in school would be amazing and its so fun for me to be able learn something new and being able to do school concerts with my instrument.

Because I love to sing and dance and I want to try something new I think I could be great I am also really looking forward to doing this.

Because me and my best friend were planning to do a band ever since we were in second grade

Honesty, I want to be in band because ever since my one friend who was in band when I was in 3rd grade always talked about how much fun band was and why it was so much fun, ever since then I had wanted to join band, and i have also loved music my whole life so I think band is for me.

The district’s proposed budget for the 2021-2022 school year has not been presented or finalized yet. Under New York State deadlines, the budget will be subject to a public hearing in early May before the public vote on May 18.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.