This week, Fredonia Central School Band Principal Andy Bennett presented the 2021 Music Department Annual Review to the Board of Education. a platform to share the data that is collected throughout the year with the school and the community.
The most important piece of information Bennett shared is the number of Fredonia students who participate in some way in the music department. Currently, the population of Fredonia District is 1,369 K-12 students, and of that number, 1,105 students were enrolled in a music class this year, or 81% of the student population.
Going deeper into this, 779 of these students in grades two through 12 participate in school music, which includes the music lessons held during the school day such as a concert band and choir, while 320 students participate in musical activities. extracurriculars, like a jazz band. These percentages represent growth during a period when people would probably expect a decline.
“Last year I was talking about how exciting it would be to be over 80%, I didn’t think we would,” Bennett said. “But we are there, we have achieved it. We are very excited to break that number.
Fredonia seems to be somewhat of an outlier in terms of the growth of the music department. Bennett cited a national study of school music programs that said 75% of school music programs had seen enrollment decline since 2019, while 50% reported a decline since 2020. Fredonia is moving in the opposite direction.
“We are fortunate to say that our district has not seen this trend,” he said.
“As a percentage of our student population, ensemble enrollment is up 2.5% from 2019 and 1.7% from 2020. The percentage of the student population taking music lessons and the percentage of Enrollments in a set are the highest since we began taking detailed enrollment records 23 years ago.
Bennett said it’s the highest number of students to have been part of Fredonia’s orchestra program since 2002, when the district had more than 500 additional students. The debut group is the largest since 2001 and the second-largest over the past two decades, while overall group enrollment is the highest since 2005. capacity.
“They are pushing maximum room allocations and may need to restructure next year to ensure we can accommodate everyone and have a safe and wonderful time,” Bennett said.
Bennett said that with the help of corporate administrator Dr. Margie Wright and high school principal Darrin Paschke, among others, Fredonia was selected as the Department of Education’s arts pathway pilot district. from New York State, which gives them an edge on how their students can graduate. high school with music and arts credits.
While Fredonia’s music schedule has remained strong, the pandemic has certainly presented them with challenges along the way. Bennett said they had to adjust and adapt their program accordingly, but students, staff, parents and the community rose to the challenge.
“We continue to make lemonade from an abundant supply of lemons,” Bennett said.
Currently, the district is operating under current guidelines of having three feet of distance between each musician with proper PPE. A big change has also been made for those attending school performances, as audience members have assigned seats for each performance.
Another important part of Fredonia’s music department is the school’s instrument use program. This allows students who receive a free or reduced lunch to borrow an instrument from school. This year, 77 students are enrolled in the program, and this number has increased every year since the program began in 2016-2017.
At the end of the day, Bennett said he was proud of his students and the program as a whole for how they not only participated in the many programs offered by Fredonia, but also for how they maintained the thriving program for a time of need.
“We are very proud of our students” he said. “The momentum they have created to keep this program alive and strong to support it through the pandemic is incredible. I know I speak on behalf of my entire team of colleagues how grateful we are to work with these families and this community. We have the best jobs in the world.
Upcoming performances for Fredonia’s music program include the All-Band Concert on Tuesday, the All-String Concert on Thursday, and the All-Choral Concert on February 24, all of which begin at 7 p.m. The school musical “All brewed,” is also upcoming, with performances on March 25 and 26 and April 1 and 2, each beginning at 7:30 p.m. News about the school’s music program can be found on Twitter @FCSD–Music.