A student at Brunswick High School in Georgia, as part of a project to become an Eagle Scout, decided to build a tower that would allow his marching band director to get a bird’s eye view of the entire marching band practice, the New Brunswick News reports.
The marching band director, John Birge, was using a deer stand to get a higher vantage point when Alex Kunda started ninth grade. Last year the band used a painter’s scaffold to give its director the view he needed, but that got lost in Hurricane Matthew.
Now that Alex is 15, he can kill two birds with one stone, so to speak: In scouting, to get to the Eagle Scout level, the highest one, you have to complete a service project that’s approved by a board, and a construction project for a school group is well within the limits of that. Second, it helps marching band directors when they can see an entire field of marchers, and the aerial view provided by Alex’s tower helps.
Alex plays mellophone in the marching band and sings in the school’s choir. He’s also active in the youth group at his church. “I’m kind of a student leader there … they look up to me,” the paper quoted him as saying.
Even if Alex decides not to become a professional musician, many of the most community-minded, goal-oriented, and responsible students in US high schools have made music a part of their lives. And why not? Music is pretty much wired into our DNA as a survival strategy, giving us a selective advantage in propagating the species.
“The discipline of music making is transferable to every learning situation in and outside the academic community,” writes Tim Lautzenheiser, who has been associated with the Bands of America organization since its beginnings more than 40 years ago, in his book series Teaching Music Through Performance in Band. “We have pointed to music students as ‘the smartest and most responsible students in the school.’ We now understand it is really the study of music that puts them in this favorable posture alongside their non-musical counterparts.”
However, he adds, as I have often pointed out, “We must be cautious not to suggest ‘music makes you smarter,’ but we certainly can point to the overall accomplishments of the students of music and find a similar high level of achievement in both academic and non-academic arenas; this is NOT an accident or a coincidence. Arguably no other discipline in school can better prepare the mind and spirit for the challenges of, medical study, law school, classes in engineering, education/teaching, business college, etc.
“Ultimately, don’t we want MUSIC to be a part of every person’s life? From singing in the church choir to playing in the community band, music should not be relegated to the school environment, but music becomes our trusted friend-of-expression forever.”