​WEST ORANGE, NJ – Musical performances and recognitions highlighted the West Orange High School Music Department’s annual Music Awards Ceremony on June 1. 

The following were recognized: Marching Band, Color Guard, Choir, Chorus, Jazz, Orchestra, and Band for grades nine-12. In addition, the Boys and Girls Step Teams and the Percussion Band were recognized for outstanding seasons including the Boys’ Step Team Third Place finish at Nationals.

Two $500 WOHS Music Faculty Scholarships were awarded to seniors Melody Ector and Conal Donagher, while 33 seniors and members of the Tri-M Music Honor Society received their cords for graduation.

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Highlights from this year’s WOHS music program included the orchestra’s performance at Carnegie Hall; several first-place finishes for the Color and Marching Bands; and a Gold Rating for the Wind Ensemble, which was capped off by an appearance at the College of New Jersey.

In the township, instrumental education begins at the elementary school level. In third grade, students learn to play the recorder, and may choose a different instrument to learn in fourth grade. The elementary and middle schools have bands and students perform in concerts throughout the year. Middle schools add jazz bands to the repertoire. In seventh and eighth grade, students are also invited to choose between music and art, and can choose both in high school.

Nearly 2,000 students in the school district play instruments. In addition, the district offers additional music opportunities with the Summer Enrichment Program, Third Grade Instrument Test Drive program, and visits to the elementary schools by high school music students.

Numerous studies have provided statistics to prove the value of music education, according to a school representative:

  • Students involved in public school music programs score an average of 107 points higher on SATs.
  • Students who report consistent levels of involvement in instrumental music over the middle and high school years show significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12.
  • Secondary students in band or orchestra reported the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances (alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs).
  • Early music training enhances children’s abstract reasoning skills and higher brain functions required for mathematics, chess, science and engineering.
  • Students involved in the music program were better at languages, learned to read more easily, showed an improved social climate, showed more enjoyment in school, and had a lower level of stress than non-music students.