We interrupt the season of contentious budget battles to show you education done right.
Imagine you play strings in your middle school ensemble. Now imagine this.
From Harpers Choice Middle School Music:
Some really amazing moments from our instrumental string concert last night. But everyone stood and cheered even cried after this performance. Thanks to Mr. McFate for coordinating such a chilling moment.
Some background on the song:
"" is a song performed by American rapper Common and American singer John Legend. It was written by John Legend, Common, and Rhymefest. The song was released on December 11, 2014 by Columbia Records as the theme song from the 2014 film , which portrays the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches. (Wikipedia)
Another snippet of the performance from someone in the audience:
Guest soloist, introduced as friend of the conductor, came on stage for @hcpss_hcms middle school orchestra/band concert finale.
Yunisa Sesay is his name. I have a feeling there’s more where that came from. Thoughts @Lin_Manuel ? @SelmaMovie #Glory
From Harpers Choice Middle School:
We love the creativity and inspiration our @music_hcms program brings! @mjmsuper @HCPSS @hcpss_smil this song was especially relevant to our 8th graders who analyzed the lyrics during their Freedom unit for a Socratic seminar! @hcpss_sla
From a musical standpoint, getting to take part in a piece of music with a vocalist is an exceptional opportunity for middle school string players. Performing a piece of music that is more contemporary in nature is pretty rare. The fact that the piece has deep and challenging content that is relevant to the students and worthy of study and discussion in a Socratic seminar is well beyond the experience most middle school string players will have.
We shouldn’t overlook the decision of the musical director to include a gifted African American singer in his concert. He is saying to the greater community that the music program values the talents of people of color. He is saying to the students: this can be you.
Representation is crucial. You can’t be what you can’t see. Mr. McFate at Harpers Choice Middle School made a musical choice that produced breathtakingly beautiful musical results but it was so much more than that.
This is what the very best educational experiences look like. They challenge students to dig deep, to make connections. Most of all, they empower students to grow and become their best selves.
A shoutout to the teachers, staff, and admin who work hard every day to create and foster educational communities where this can happen. A shoutout to the parents and public servants who are working to make sure that there is adequate funding for this to continue.