(Bu Heidi Zemach with assistance by Sharon Kim)
Seward Music Association, a.k.a. “Seward Band and Choir Boosters” held their annual meeting on Monday, Sept 16, at the Community Room in the Seward Library Museum. The group elected new board officers. Sharon Kim was elected President and Heidi Zemach was elected Vice President. Bryce Mulholland was elected Treasurer and will apprentice for the first year with longtime board treasurer Mica Van Buskirk. Kim will be acting secretary until that spot can be filled. The focus of this group is to support music in the three Seward schools and community.
With such large classes of Kindergartners and 1st graders entering the schools, there’s a great potential to start building the local music program up and creating more musical opportunities, said Kim, whose daughter is in the 1st grade. She hopes the momentum for this will build as parents and their children start enjoying fun new musical experiences.
Seward schools music teacher Breighley Sexton described some of the needs of the limited music program currently offered in Seward. The elementary school, where band is offered in the 5th and 6th grades, has a lack of working instruments, and some parents say they can’t afford to rent instruments from Anchorage music suppliers, she said. Some children who had wanted to play in band, dropped out when they found they would not be able to play their instrument-of-choice. Others tried to play the instruments that were available, but tended to give up quickly with these instruments. Only one flute was available, which was the top request of many girls.
Last year, Sexton had to personally supply reeds for the woodwinds, as there were no replacements. She also is allowing some students with non-traditional instruments, such as stringed instruments, to join elementary and advanced band. Many students learned strings in guitar club last year, at Seward Bluegrass Camp for Kids, or through private lessons, but there is no official in-school string program.
The middle school which only offered Music Appreciation last year, now offers a choir class combined with a back-up band that practices together. The band is made up of any instruments that students already have. The piano is currently out of tune however, and Sexton wondered where the funds to tune it would come from.
The high school has a choir too, but no band program. Students moving to Seward High with experience playing in band have nowhere to go—except to join the adult Community Band, lamented one concerned participant. Formerly from Girdwood, he pointed out that that town, with only a fraction of Seward’s population, put on local musicals. Sexton plans a small musical at the elementary school level this year.
SMA will ask for donations of new or used instruments to enhance the school collection. These donated instruments will be professionally appraised and repaired if possible. SMA may purchase some new ones if there are still unmet needs.
In recent years a school bus trip to Anchorage to view a musical or an orchestral performance cost about $750. SMA has helped fund several of these trips in all of the schools in the past, with parent’s contributing the difference, and hopes to do so again.
Attendees at the meeting, who numbered six members of the public (including a family of three), plus SMA organizers, brainstormed short and long-term goals for the 46-year-old Seward nonprofit, and will prioritize these at the next October meeting (date TBA). Goals included providing the elementary school with more band instruments as soon as possible; supporting regular visiting performers at the schools; coordinating instrumental workshops; sponsoring music-related distance-education; funding field trips to shows and rehearsals; supporting local community or school musicals; encouraging small music clubs such as drum circles, ukulele or guitar clubs, talent show or recitals; supporting regular karaoke nights, and more.
While the number of attendees for the meeting was small, the emphasis was on focusing on short-term successful efforts for the school year and having the long-term goal of having a band or even an orchestra at the high school in five to ten years.
Please contact Breighley Sexton or any of the schools to donate band instruments for her program. It is tax-deductible.
Or for information call Sharon Kim at 422-0375- or Heidi Zemach at 224-6473