Education

Music Students, Parents and Faculty Urge Board of Education to Reconsider Proposed Music Program Cuts

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Randolph BOE hears comments from the public in May 16 meeting Credits: Danielle Wilson
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RHS Student, Christopher Mantell, speaks to the Board of Education about the RMS and RHS music program. Credits: Danielle Wilson
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RANDOLPH, NJ - At Tuesday’s meeting, public attendees again urged the Board of Education to reconsider the music program cuts.

“While we have been told that a decision will be made, our greatest concern is that the decision is being delayed in an effort to push an undesirable outcome to the summer,” said Martina McElroy, a member of the Band Parents Association. “We will continue to show up at board meetings, at FFT meetings, and Education Committee meetings, even if they are closed to the public, so that we can make sure that the Board of Ed realizes how important the music program is to Randolph.”

Randolph High School High Brass Instructor and recent retiree, Dr. David Sampson explained that he joined Randolph 18 years ago, after a very successful career as a professional trumpet performer, conductor, and educator. He taught at the high school level at Pingry School and Delbarton School as the composer in residence, and at the college level at Rutgers and Montclair State.

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“Before applying to teach at Randolph, I asked around about Randolph’s reputation… Unanimously the opinion of the Randolph Music Department was stellar,” Sampson began. “It didn't take me long to determine that the music faculty was true to that reputation.”

The National Association of Music Merchants recently rated Randolph in the top four percent of school music programs nationwide, he reminded the board.

“How do you support a department that has a long history of stellar results?” he asked. “Do you support the faculty by giving them their fair share of teaching time, or do you try to guess how much the department can be cut before its standards start to suffer?”

Sampson closed stating, “I do not want to leave this music department and these students knowing that the best days of the Randolph Music Department are behind me.”

“We want ourselves to be unique, responsible and educated members of society. In order to do any of this, we need to have a balanced and well-rounded education,” began RHS junior saxophonist Christopher Mantell. “The proposed cut to the Randolph music program is not only a detriment to our wonderful program, but it is simply not an option.”

Mantell spoke to the board of the vertical teaching structure that allows the school to provide students with specialized instruction on their instruments. He recently won first place in the Ridgewood Concert Band Youth Soloist competition and stated this accomplishment would not be possible without the level of instruction received at RHS.

“In exactly one year, I will be a product of this great music program, and I’m proud of it. My education in the Randolph music program has been the best,” Mantell concluded. “I sincerely request that you please rethink this cut of the middle school music program, as it simply does not follow our core values nor is it in the best interest of our school community.”

David Rosenblatt, parent of three former Randolph High School music students, asked the board to consider when was the last time any department cut 33 percent of their instructional time. Recently, many board members praised themselves for fitting in more instructional time, but now they are considering “gutting” one particular subject, he said.

“For those of us who aren’t musicians, like myself, asking someone else to teach a highly skilled musician a different instrument would be like asking the English teacher to go in and teach calculus, or the basketball coach to coach the track team,” Rosenblatt added. “Can’t do it. Unacceptable. There has to be a better way.”

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