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Sad Tune for School Music Program

June 06, 1993

Your story on the elimination of the performing music program in the Los Alamitos Unified School District (May 28) not only provides continuing sad commentary on the frequent elimination of important performing arts classes in our public school systems, but (perhaps) inadvertently demonstrates rather dramatically the need for more music education in our school system.

Perhaps if your staff had such a course they would not have mistaken the instrument in the foreground of the smaller photograph for a trombone. (While a slide trombone is visible in the background, the horn in the foreground, which presumably is what the caption attempts to describe, is either a baritone horn or euphonium).

STEVE DONALDSON

Newport Beach

Our sixth-grade instrumental music program (in the Los Alamitos Unified School District) has been quietly eliminated effective September. I say "quietly" because an overwhelming majority of the community is totally unaware of this "philosophical" decision. The decision was not based on a necessary budget cut--it will not save our schools any money. It was simply easier to hoard all the sixth-graders into a general fine arts survey class than to spend the extra time needed to successfully schedule those students desiring to play an instrument into the already existing band or orchestra classes. These wonderful music classes are now open only to the seventh- and eighth-graders; the sixth-graders are being denied access to ease scheduling for the staff.

Our elementary schools have done a nice job in educating our children in the fine arts generally. As a result of this exposure, many kids have already selected their special area of interest; some already play an instrument or have their hearts and minds set on playing an instrument in sixth grade. It just isn't fair to deny them that opportunity. They will lose a whole year of actually playing an instrument. Playing daily as a "team member" of a real band or orchestra is a far more enriching experience for a child than the replacement now offered: a parent-paid, after-school, twice weekly, 45-minute music session. Many parents can't afford it; most kids have other conflicting after-school activities. Because the "new" program is parent-paid, the impression is given that our schools don't have the money to support our band and orchestra. This is not true, the programs are already in place. Should parents of sixth-graders be forced to pay for a reduced music experience for their kids when their kids could be scheduled into already existing day music classes during normal school hours?

It's not too late! The Board of Education has dodged the issue by indicating that they have, to date, heard little outcry from the community and will continue to support Principal Karen Lovelace and staff's decision to keep this new, diminished music program. They have effectively stepped back and left the problem in her lap. Let them hear your cry. Mrs. Lovelace has been such a positive influence in our middle school. I think we can count on her to care.

KAREN K. TILLERY

Seal Beach

I'm sure I'm not the only one who noticed that the editor of Orange County Focus missed a beat in a caption of one of the photos adjoining "Parents Protest End of Music Elective (May 28, 1993)." I played a trombone before I settled down to the career to which I was better suited and it never looked like the instrument the young lad is playing. Try scaling it down to a euphonium.

WILLIAM O. WALCOTT

South Laguna

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