WASHINGTON – The sounds of drums and ukuleles filled the Department of Education plaza Tuesday as students from two Maryland middle schools and officials celebrated music education.
Students from George Fox Middle School,Pasadena Md.,and Lime Kiln Middle School,Fulton Md.,played in a ukulele and drum circle led by music teachers and department officials. The event was cosponsored by the National Association of Music Merchants,which selected the middle schools based on their strong music programs and proximity to Washington. KALA Brand Music of Petaluma,Calif.,donated the ukuleles to the students.
Peter Cunningham,assistant secretary for communications,explained the importance of music education in schools.
“My children were both musicians,and I know how important it was to their education,” Cunningham said. An accomplished musician with an affinity for jazz,blues and rock,Cunningham led the crowd in the patriotic tune,“This Land Is Your Land.”
Many area musicians and music teachers,including Grammy Award winners Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer of Community Music Inc.,gave group lessons to participants. Fink and Marxer visit music classes in the greater Washington area to give ukulele lessons. They support music education for children.
“At this time,schools have shrinking budgets for the arts,but we believe that integrating the arts into curriculums enhances all learning potential. The ukulele and hand drum are perfect examples of accessible,affordable instruments.” Fink said
Fink and Marxer encouraged the crowd to join them in an exercise that combined grammar and yodeling using the vowels “a” and “e.”
In an email,Fink said,“Music is more than an extra. … The goal for the event was to keep music education front and center at the Department of Education.”
Joe Lamond,president of the NAMM,which supports innovations in music products,presented Cunningham with a patriotic ukulele to show appreciation to the department for advancing music education and arts in schools.
“We believe that kids need to learn in a lot of different ways,they need a lot of different subjects,they need the full range of educational activities,and music is one of them,” Cunningham said.
Reach reporter Maria S. Williams at [email protected] or 202-326-9871
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