Dear Discussion Board readers,

I am writing this note to ask everyone in town for help reinstating the gutted music program at the Wayland High School. If this does not interest you, I suggest you read on anyway. Perhaps I can change your mind.

As with most everyone else in Wayland, I care greatly about the welfare of past, present, and future students at WHS. Both of my children attended, and today, one is in his final year of law school at BC Law, with the other is entering Tufts Medical School in August. For this reason, I feel the need to reach out to the town to help us ensure that we provide the same outstanding foundation that my children were fortunate enough to receive for all of today’s and tomorrow’s students.

I found out recently that five music classes will not be running next year. In addition, the WHS Band/Jazz budget for next year has been cut in half. The decision to make these cuts was made by Assistant Superintendent Brad Crozier, WHS Principal Allyson Mizoguchi, and Fine Arts Director Susan Memoli. The basis for the decision was low enrollment numbers coupled with pressure from the school committee. These cuts will be implemented by having the WHS Band Director teach at WHS in the morning only and spend the remainder of the day teaching grades 1-3 at the Loker School.

Please understand that when a position in music/arts is cut back and classes are eliminated, they rarely return. Study after study has proven the link between music and learning (particularly math skills), and to take this essential enrichment away from our children is an enormous mistake. Over the years, we have built so much in the WHS Band/Jazz/General Music Program. Our students deserve to continue to have the opportunity to take these exciting and necessary classes and ensembles.

Some implications of this decision:

➢ Since all music classes will only be offered in the morning, this will prevent many students from fitting them into their schedule. This creates a positive feedback loop of attendance reduction – essentially a “self fulfilling prophecy”.

➢ Students will no longer be able to do special things such as going on performance tours, playing in town for the elderly and veterans, hosting guest artists to work with our students, chamber music groups, pep rallies, attending Boston Symphony concerts/rehearsals, and many others.

➢ AP Music Theory and Songwriting are two of the courses selected for elimination. These classes are very special, top caliber classes that most high schools do not offer. The administration stated that 10 students are the minimum needed to run a class. As of today, each of these classes has 7 or 8 students signed up for next year. Comparably, this enrollment number for these kinds of specialized classes is typical in other school districts as well. The implication of smaller class size is of course that students receive much more attention and resources - this is a good thing. Please remember that some of these students rely on these courses for college and career preparation. Looking to other subjects and classes within our own WHS, there are several other courses that only have 5-7 students enrolled. These will still be running - why not music?
In closing, I am very fearful that this is the beginning of the end for the WHS Band/Jazz Program. I believe in the need for a full-time Band Director and music teacher at our high school. Having music as a full-time part of the fabric of the high school experience is so important. Often, the connections, preparation, and teaching done outside of these classes also makes a huge difference. Not having the band director present in a full time capacity at the high school will prevent this interaction from occurring. I believe these cuts are doing a great disservice to our students, and that there are other routes and options available which need to be explored.

If you want our students and the WHS music program to thrive, please speak up and let your voice be heard.

As a final note (in case you were wondering) these are the courses that have been eliminated: AP Music Theory, Songwriting, Rock/Rap History, Jazz Project, and College Music Theory.