If there was ever a doubt that Kenosha values music education, it was certainly allayed in recent weeks.
Since early February, we’ve witnessed:
The 62nd annual Band-O-Rama, featuring more than 1,800 student band musicians.
The 53rd annual Choral Festival, with more than 1,300 students singing.
The 57th annual Orchestra Festival, with more than 1,700 students performing.
An award from the National Association of Music Merchants proclaiming the Kenosha Unified School District as one of the best in the nation for music education.
The return of Tremper High School alumnus Paul Cortese to his alma mater. Cortese is a professional viola player.
Add to these the accolades Unified students racked up in Saturday’s annual solo-and-ensemble music event and the numerous concerts and music events that take place throughout the school year — even in the summer — and you can see that Kenosha is a music town.
“Hundreds of professional musicians came out of Kenosha,” Cortese said during his visit last week. “I got a wonderful music education here, and I told the kids that this week in the high schools. I told them how lucky they are.”
Yes, we are lucky, and we shouldn’t take it for granted.
For many years, school districts across the country have opted to cut music and other arts in budget moves, despite evidence that students involved in the arts often excel in other academic pursuits.
Any moves to cut music in Kenosha would be — and have been — met with resistance, because so many people here either look back fondly on their music experience in the schools or take considerable pride in their children’s experiences.
And it goes beyond fond memories; many adults still play their instruments, as evidenced by the Kenosha Pops Concert Band, the UW-Parkside Community Band, the Parkside Community Orchestra and numerous singing ensembles, both large and small, that perform.
That’s because music is a lifelong pursuit; some of the groups listed above have musicians on their rosters who are in their 80s.
That love of music begins in grade school, and the experience a child has with music influences them for the rest of their lives.
Kenosha’s experience with music has always been a positive one, and it will continue to be that way for future generations as long as we value the arts in our community.
There’s no doubt that it will continue; Kenoshans wouldn’t stand for anything else.
What do you think?
What has the KUSD music program meant to you and your family?
When did you participate? Have you continued to perform?
Fill out our form at kenoshanews.com/music and we’ll publish some of your responses in coming weeks.