I am writing today to voice my unwavering support for the music program of the Pine-Richland school district. It has been brought to my attention by a fellow alumnus that this wonderful program is in danger of falling victim to monetary issues and other concerns.
I feel I can speak about this program with a certain degree of authority as it has aided me in working as a professional musician for the last fifteen years. After graduating from Pine-Richland in 1997, I went on to receive a Bachelor’s of Music from Loyola University New Orleans and a Master’s of Arts degree in Jazz Studies from Middle Tennessee State University, where I received the award for Outstanding Achievement in Graduate Studies.
I have toured across the country and recorded with a number of outstanding artists, including Kermit Ruffins, Jason Marsalis, Eric Lindell and Frankie Valli. I have also performed at countless clubs, theatres and music festivals in addition to teaching at the prestigious New Orleans Center For The Creative Arts, whose alumni include Wynton Marsalis and Harry Connick, Jr.
The instruction I received from the band program, specifically the harmony and theory class, gave me an immediate advantage in my college music curriculum. I entered my freshmen year at the top of my class and excelled throughout my college career. It also allowed me to build on that solid foundation through the years of my professional development.
More importantly, in my opinion, my instructors, Robert Marshall, Deborah Vaughan, David Supinsky, and the entire faculty helped shape the whole person I am today. Music education is but one part of the knowledge they imparted in me. They taught me discipline; how to not only lead but to contribute to an ensemble, and countless lessons I have carried with me throughout my life.
I feel you would be doing a great disservice to the students of the Pine-Richland school district if you were to cut these programs. In our culture of immediate gratification, these departments devoted to music and all of the arts aid our future generations in helping the students of today to become the well-rounded citizens and leaders we hope they will be.
I implore you to exercise great caution while weighing these decisions before you. I hope you will take into consideration the impact our wonderful faculty has had on students’ lives, not only those who went on to pursue careers in music, but also those who took the lessons they learned and applied them to their everyday life.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.
Class of 1997