Music supporters expected to criticize Stonington curriculum changes

October 10, 2018

Stonington — As they did in June, a large group of school music supporters are expected to attend Thursday night’s Board of Education meeting to criticize plans to revamp the elementary and middle school music programs.

School officials are scheduled to outline proposed changes to various aspects of the middle school curriculum, including music, as part of the middle school consolidation plan, at the 7 p.m. meeting in the Stonington High School Commons. School officials have said the consolidation of grades six, seven and eight at Mystic Middle School and having fifth grade go to the newly renovated elementary schools not only will save money but create additional academic and extracurricular opportunities for middle school students, such as possible electives in areas such as current events, robotics, creative writing, debating, graphic design and yoga.

One of the major changes is that middle school students no longer will be required to take band or chorus in seventh and eighth grade as they are now. All students would continue to take band or chorus in sixth grade but in seventh and eighth, while being encouraged to take band or chorus, they will be able to opt out and choose from so-called “music encore” classes in areas such as music composition and drumline.

There is a concern among music supporters that not requiring students to take band or chorus could result in a decrease in participation in the award-winning music programs at the middle and high schools.

While music supporters have pushed to bring formalized music instruction down to the fourth grade, the new plan calls for teaching students recorder in the third grade, ukulele in fourth grade and drumming/percussion in fifth grade, when students also will be introduced to instruments they can learn in sixth grade.

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