University bringing good noise to students

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 19, 2004

From radio to television to high school football games, music is everywhere. It fills the air, warming hearts during the holidays and inspiring teams to win games. But many children, particularly in rural areas, do not get the chance to experience music or be exposed to its many qualities while in their formative years.

Friends of Hale County are making moves to change that in Hale County schools.

“The University of Montevallo has accepted our request to come teach all five elementary schools in Hale County music,” Lamar stated in a recent “Friends” update. “The schools have not had any music exposure in years.”

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Hale County Schools Superintendent Joseph Stegal said Montevallo officials have agreed to allow their music students to go into the schools once a week and teach music to the targeted grades of kindergarten through fifth grades.

“The trade-off is we pay for their travel and feed them lunch,” he said. “But compared to what it would cost to pay for a full-time staff member to teach music in five elementary schools, that’s a negligible cost.”

Stegal said he would like to see music and more taught in all the schools, but said it just isn’t possible.

“Our situation is we have bare bones programs, we don’t have art or music in the elementary schools because we just don’t have the resources,” he said. “One of the parts of living in a rural area is that students aren’t exposed to cultural experiences like those. Transportation is a problem and poverty is a problem.”

Even something as simple as going to a movie or concert is a problem for those who find it hard or impossible to pay bills with what little income they have.

“A lot of our parents have to devote all their sources to paying bills and putting food on the table, taking their kids to a movie just isn’t a priority,” he said. “Television and radio become their primary source of entertainment and culture.”

That’s not to say the schools do not try to incorporate cultural events into their academic curriculum, but again options are limited.

“We try to get traveling groups, we get a limited number of bands and go on the occasional field trips,” he said. “But there isn’t anything on a regular, weekly or daily basis.”

Janet Sherrod, principal of Greensboro East Elementary School in Greensboro, said she certainly wanted to take advantage of the offer.

“I would like to have a music class to enlighten the students, to expose them to music because we don’t have it in the school now,” she said. “This is an excellent opportunity for our students.”

Not only does music entertain, but Sherrod said it can improve grades as well.

“Research shows music has a positive affect on grades,” she said. “Children who participate in music typically excel academically, especially in the field of math.”

The choice of whether to offer the program is up to each individual principal, and groundwork is still being laid on the logistics, but Stegal said he hopes the programs will begin before Christmas break or soon after the students return to school.