To the editor:
As a Foxboro music alumnus, I am disheartened by the evident prioritization by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education of athletic activities over musical ones. While athletes have been welcomed back inside, music has been left out in the cold.
As has been detailed by current students and their parents in previous letters, music education goes far beyond what can be observed. It aids students’ mental health, academic performance, and provides them community. While I wish to echo all these sentiments, I also feel compelled to note music’s cultural centrality.
In the present era of profound polarization, people are unable to relate to one another’s life experiences. Music not only empowers but compels people to understand one another.
More classical forms require understanding of a composer’s intent, while more improvisatory forms allow students to communicate what they are feeling in that moment. The composers’ intents and students’ feelings are not a means to a mechanical end. They are the means to the end of either mimicking a composer’s intent or forging their own expression. These ends are characteristically human.
I know firsthand the dedication of our staff. Students’ musical exposure spans six centuries of compositions. Many also participate in the jazz program, which provides them the opportunity to understand the musical development of jazz and its roots as an African American art form and connection to civil rights movements.
What is currently restrained goes far beyond students’ socialization and the development of technical instrumental skills. Meaningful and live engagement with the world’s most important art has been stifled.
We owe it to them, and to our future, to allow them to follow safety precautions and resume music’s use of facilities after school.
With all the occurrences of the past year, music and music education should be the priority, not an afterthought.
Paul Relyea, Foxboro