Music program wins national recognition

Members of the Rogers High School Chamber Choir, led by choral instructor Sam Eckberg, performed an Indian pop song for the council chambers at Elk River City Hall.
Members of the Rogers High School Chamber Choir, led by choral instructor Sam Eckberg, performed an Indian pop song for the council chambers at Elk River City Hall.

The council chambers at Elk River City Hall were more lively than usual for the Nov. 28 regular meeting of the Elk River Area School Board.

What was scheduled to be a performance in the lobby area as community members filed in for the meeting turned into a full-fledged performance at the front of the meeting room. Members of the Rogers High School Chamber Choir, led by choral instructor Sam Eckberg, performed an Indian pop song for those in attendance.

The vocal performance, which included soloists, choreography and freestyle dancing, served as a precursor for the presentation of a national award to the Elk River Area School District. The district was named one of the 2016 Best Communities for Music Education by the National Association of Music Merchants.

 

In its 17th year, the award recognizes outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who work together to ensure access to music learning for all students as part of the school curriculum.
Susan Potvin, a curriculum specialist with the district, presented certificates to music education staff and members of the School Board that evening.

Potvin said District 728 was one of six districts in Minnesota and 476 across the nation to receive the honor. She added the recognition arrived in March and came after the district completed a questionnaire about funding, instructional time and support for music funding, among other requirements.

She said the district’s music educators don’t view the award as the program as arrived and continuous improvement has ended, but rather a sign that advocacy efforts by past and present staff, students and community along with support of the District 728 administration has made a difference.
Seven music teachers were presented with awards Nov. 28 for their efforts toward the recognition. Representatives from Schmitt Music were on hand to distribute the certificates.
“We heard a lot, rightly so, about the Elk River football team, but thank you for doing this,” said Director Gregg Peppin, referencing the football team’s winning of a state title.
“This is like, really big, because it’s nationwide,” he said of the music education award.
Director Sue Farber, an Elk River native who participated in the music program during her own upbringing, said the district’s music education program has remained strong over the years despite its “ebbs and flows.”
“You guys have taken a program and done phenomenal things with it,” she said to the music teachers in attendance.

About the NAMM
The National Association of Music Merchants is a nonprofit association that promotes the pleasures and benefits of making music and aims to strengthen the global music products industry, according to its website, namm.org. The association serves as a hub for those seeking the newest innovations in musical products, recording technology, sound and lighting.
Other Minnesota districts that received the 2016 award included Anoka-Hennepin Independent School District 11, Fergus Falls Public Schools, Independent School District 279 in Maple Grove, Minnetonka Independent School District 276 and Mounds View Public Schools.