BAR HARBOR — A new music appreciation program for grade seven and eight students at Conners Emerson School is to include a week-long workshop series in January, along with a trip to the musical “Sister Act” at the Collins Center in Orono.
The music program was developed by community and school members after town meeting attendees in June protested removal of music theory classes and reduction of then-music teacher Joe Wainer’s position to less than full time.
After town meeting, voters reinstated $25,000 into the school budget, and school officials formed the committee, which continues to meet twice a month.
The program that was developed has thus far brought performances, interdisciplinary guests, equipment upgrades and a trip to a dress rehearsal of Mount Desert Island High School’s fall musical performance of “Tintypes.”
“I am very confident that these are more meaningful music experiences than they’ve had in the past … and they’re really enjoying it,” Neilly told school committee members Dec. 1.
Music participation also is up generally, with 101 students in grades five through eight in band this year, up from 73 last year.
As the music appreciation program unfolds for the year, not all of the money allocated has been spent. Neilly said that in the budget for next year, she was requesting that $5,000 of the total be allocated to a slight increase in new music teacher Shane Ellis’ schedule.
The committee that developed the program comprises Ellis, music teacher Rebecca Edmonson, Lynn Hanna, Matt Hochman, school committee member Kristi Losquadro, Lilea Simis, Brian Booher, Mary Booher and principal Barb Neilly. The committee’s goal was to budget all or some of the town meeting money to activities that would enrich the music experience for all students, with an eye on grade seven and eight students who are not currently participating in any music programs.
Music week, set for Jan. 5-9, will include two daily, hour-long sessions through the week. Subjects will include music composing and recording, instrument construction, speaker building, improv, music and dance. Guests will include College of the Atlantic music instructor John Cooper, radio DJ Bill Dabutler, local soundmen, singers and musicians.
Other activities are planned for later in the year.