The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music education: March is “Music in Our Schools” Month and features free lunchtime concerts in the state Capitol in Madison

February 28, 2011
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Capitol Rotunda isn’t just for protests and politics, no matter what you have seen and heard over the past several weeks.

Soon some different sounds will fill the marble halls.

But let’s back up.

These are not easy days – and they may be about to get even harder — for music education, what with tight school budgets and tight family budgets and curtailed media coverage.

If you favor classical music education, you should know that March is Music in Our Schools Month. That means school groups from around Wisconsin will perform free noon-time concerts (noon to 1 p m.) in the Rotunda (below top) Wisconsin’s state Capitol (below bottom) — assuming that the massive protests don’t interfere with the schedule (stay tuned to various media outlets for updates).

What does that all mean? Check out the following link:

As part of the celebration, Wisconsin Music Educators Association (WMEA) continues its celebrated student performances — Capitol Concerts — this March as part of Music In Our Schools Month.

Selected Wisconsin school music groups will perform a FREE concert within the series in the State Capitol Rotunda twice weekly from this Thursday, March 3, through  Monday, April 11, FROM NOON TO 1 P.M.

Each year, school music teachers from all over Wisconsin apply to WMEA’s Capitol Concerts program to include their students in one of the performances in the state’s Capitol. School music groups are chosen to perform a free concert to the public, emphasizing music and its influence upon Wisconsin students’ lives. Many schools apply, but fewer are chosen. Still, the final choice still offers a wide representation of the entire state.

WMEA’s philosophy statement of “provid[ing] opportunity for visible success and achievement in the school and community” is supported through the Capitol Concerts program as the students selected perform a concert open to the community under the Capitol’s marble rotunda.

This year, Music In Our Schools Month is themed “Music Lasts a Lifetime.”  WMEA Executive Director Michael George — whose office is in nearby Waunakee — agrees with this principle, saying, “The multiple ways that music education affects people do indeed make its impact last a lifetime.   Whether it be lifelong participation, the lasting impact on intellectual development, appreciation of beauty, self-confidence gained through performance, ability to collaborate, or a creative means of self-expression, we all benefit from a culture in which there is access for everyone to study music.”

In other words, music — and the other arts — do for student development and self-esteem what sports do, only with far less media coverage and public awareness and support.

The National Association for Music Education explains that the purpose of Music In Our Schools Month is to “raise awareness of the importance of music education for all children… [and to provide] an opportunity for music teachers to bring their music programs to the attention of the school and community.”


One way the community can help locally is by attending the Barnes & Noble Bookfair on Sunday, March 6, and mentioning their support of music in our schools at the time of purchase.  In fact, between March 6 and March 10, a percentage of each purchase (CDs, DVDs,  books) from any Wisconsin Barnes & Noble store or ANY ONLINE ORDER ANYWHERE will go directly to the Wisconsin Foundation for School Music if you use Bookfair # 10258226 when you place your order or make your purchase. (See below for more instructions.)

Here is a schedule:

2011 Capitol Concerts Schedule (noon to 1 p.m.)

Thursday, March 3: Edgewood High School Orchestra, Madison, under director Carrie Backman

Wednesday, March 9: Afro-Cuban Taiko Ensemble, Marinette, under director: Paul Okray

Friday, March 11: West Bend Treblemakers
under directors Darci Ketter, Heidi Stathus and Jackie Vandenberg

Monday, March 14: Brookwood Senior High Choir, Ontario, under director Debra Olstad

Wednesday, March 16: Stevens Point Area High School Concert Choir and Wind Ensemble
under directors Kevin Morrissey and Brad Schmidt

Friday, March 18: New Richmond High School Kammerchor Mixed Choir under director Andy Schroetter

Monday, March 21: Forest Park Middle School Orchestra, Franklin, under director Susan Anderegg

Wednesday, March 23: Fond du Lac High School Concert Treble Choir, director Sarah McVeigh

Monday, March 28: Lapham Elementary School Choir, Madison, under director Lynn Halie Najem

Monday, April 4: Arrowhead High School Symphonic Band, Hartland, under director Stacey Zwirlein

Friday, April 8: St. James Lutheran School Band and Choir, Shawano, under directors April Black and David Pelow

Monday, April 11: Black Creek Middle School Choir under director Sandra Kailhofer

Monday, April 18: Waukesha West High School Concert Choir under director Thomas Ajack

For more information about the concerts and how to apply to play in the Capitol, visit:

And let’s spread the word. Let’s go viral. Let’s forward this blog posting and spread it around to schools, students, parents, family and friends and even strangers. They may want to help music students and even subscribe free to the blog.

Young people and especially music students  should know it when they are recognized.

Unfortunately, it’s not like they’re sports teams and you can rely on the media,  new or old, to cover them.

What do you think of music education and its importance?

Of these concerts in the Rotunda?

The Ear wants to hear.


Once again, this coming weekend you can support music in schools by going to a Barnes and Noble bookstore (Madison has eastside and a west side store) and buying or ordering CDs, DVDs and books. Just mention account number 10258226.

Live musical performances are also scheduled at each store from 2 to 4 p.m.

In fact, The Ear has been asked to contribute a list of essential works about the piano.

So tomorrow I will post my list along with instructions about how to support music education through your purchases.

Stay tuned!

Posted in Classical music

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