To the editor: I taught general music in the FBNSB School District from 1985-2008 at Badger Road, Two Rivers and Denali elementary school. During that time I was privileged to work with a host of outstanding music educators on the instrumental side. These teachers, as do current instrumental teachers, taught and inspired large groups of young players to learn and appreciate a new way of making music together. Those students continued their learning into the secondary programs, all of which were outstanding.
During my tenure there were years during the spring budget process that cuts and layoffs were proposed in these programs. Parents and community members always answered the call and filled the board rooms with their presence and voiced their support for music in the schools. Subsequently the programs were spared. This pattern repeated itself with periodic frequency through the 90s, 00s and into the ‘teens. Each time Fairbanks let it be known that they valued music education for their children and wanted it saved.
It is with great dismay that I read of the proposed cuts to elementary instrumental music yet again. I’m greatly disappointed that after literally decades of the Fairbanks community voicing their support and desire for instrumental education for their children, these programs are on the chopping block once again. Often these cuts have been proposed and/or supported by school board members who themselves participated and enjoyed the very programs they are willing to cut. To board members I say, in the year 2022 is this really the extent of hard work and creative thinking while working the budget process? Do you all honestly feel you’ve worked every scenario and turned over every stone?
Look around the Fairbanks community and you will see that music and the arts are a major part of a number of people’s lives from pre-school through adult. It’s one of the many things that makes Fairbanks a special place. This love and appreciation begins as a young student of the arts. Don’t deprive this generation of young musicians the joy of learning from these outstanding music educators. Once again, Fairbanks is speaking. Please listen.