March is Music in Our Schools Month (MIOSM), a national celebration of the importance of music education for all children. VIDE’s Director of the Division of Music Education and Programs Dionne Donadelle, sat down with Education News to share more about the month and what it means for music programs in Virgin Islands public schools. [Read More]
Education News: What is the significance of MIOSM?
Dionne Donadelle: For more than 30 years, March has been officially designated by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) for the observance of Music In Our Schools Month® (MIOSM®), the time of year when music education becomes the focus of schools across the nation.
The purpose of MIOSM is to raise awareness of the importance of music education for all children – and to remind citizens that school is where all children should have access to music. MIOSM is an opportunity for music teachers to bring their music programs to the attention of the school and the community, and to display the benefits that school music brings to students of all ages.
MIOSM and the events surrounding it are the ideal opportunities for increasing awareness of the benefits of high-quality music education programs in our nation’s schools. The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) hopes that teachers, students, and music supporters alike will find ways to join in on the celebration through creative activities and advocacy.
Led by NAfME, music educators and students throughout the United States and overseas are demonstrating this March the powerful role a quality music program plays in the lives of young people. From Music In Our Schools Month®(MIOSM®) concerts at schools, in the community, or even at the state capitol, to state proclamations and visits to legislators, NAfME’s annual event raises awareness about the need for quality music programs for all students.
EN: MIOSM is a national celebration. How do Virgin Islands schools commemorate the month?
DD: For years, the Virgin Islands has been celebrating music. It’s how we communicate at times, it’s a way of life for us, especially as it pertains to our culture. So, though it’s been over 30 years that nationally we are celebrating it as a specific month, the Virgin Islands has always had a high regard for music.
EN: There are a variety of activities planned for MIOSM. Are there any in particular you wish to highlight?
DD: Every time a student or an educator performs, it’s a highlight; but if I had to really specify particular events, it would be the 2nd Annual Solo Classical and Jazz Competition held in each district. March 12, 2020 in the St. Thomas-St. John District and March 16 & 18, 2020 in the St. Croix District; “Arts on the Dock” – March 17, 2020 and “Arts at the Dorsch,” both highlighting the arts as a whole, not just music; and the “Music is ME” territory-wide event, where schools participate by performing at different places around the community wearing “Music is ME” T-shirts.
EN: What do you want students and the community to get out of the activities planned for MIOSM? Why should the public attend?
DD: Often times, we only take the opportunity to see our students perform for Christmas/Spring concerts and/or carnival/festivals, but our students perform on a regular basis throughout the entire school year. Like the Spelling Bee or MATHCOUNTS, the competition showcases the individual talents of our students and how much hard work they put in to developing their craft. Supporting our students at these events is a must; it shows that you value their time and effort at creating something that is uniquely their own.
EN: What is your office responsible for in the Department of Education?
The Division of Music Education and Programs plans, develops and directs district programs for music education; ensures and delivers high quality instruments, equipment and music software producing globally competitive students and educators. This is done through workshops, clinics, guest artists and professional development. Currently my office is working on developing a Music Education Curriculum that will allow for the current and future innovations of music to be adaptable while maintaining a solid foundation at its core.
EN: What role does music play in the lives of students and their academic and personal successes?
Statistics have proven that a child that has an opportunity to partake in the ARTS develops into a well-rounded, disciplined, creative and appreciative community-minded person. What’s important for the community as whole to note is that Music or the ARTS just doesn’t mean entertainment. We need to begin to appreciate the ARTS for an entity as its own. That provides a balance in a world that seems so heavily distorted on our morals, ethics and values. The ARTS offer stability and opportunity to grow and develop through creativity and acceptance of other’s creations, as part of life, working together. So, entertainment should never be the only thing associated with the ARTS by any means.
EN: Is there anything else you wish to highlight about MIOSM?
March isn’t just about music; we also celebrate Virgin Islands History and Women’s History Month. So, I have created “Music Mondays” – a salute to Virgin Islands Women in Music. Each Monday, I will highlight a different Virgin Islands woman deeply rooted in music. We have to celebrate how far we’ve come and how far we can go!