From the Desk of Dr. John E. Bierwirth, Superintendent of Herricks Schools As any member of my family can attest, I have little or no ability in music. It is perhaps because of that that I have always enjoyed watching teachers and students working together both in class and in concerts. Whether one continues to play an instrument or sing in a group in college or as an adult, learning about music and participating in it is an incredibly enriching experience. Moreover, it is an experience which stays with a person throughout his/her life. It is also one of those experiences which seems to be so close to the essence of what it is to be human that it helps build bridges between peoples and cultures.
Herricks music program is a great demonstration that breadth and quality are not mutually exclusion, that it is possible to build a program which both allows extraordinarily large percentages of each class to participate in a band, orchestra or chorus and promotes outstanding levels of achievement for those with great talent. One can have concerts in which there are so many participants that it seems impossible to squeeze another musician on the stage. At the same time, Herricks had 32 students selected for All State this year, more than any other high school in New York State.
Many districts in the United States have had difficulty maintaining their music programs over the past couple of decades. Financial difficulties or pressure to spend more time and effort on reading and math have forced some districts to cut back on the arts, including music. This is indeed unfortunate as the arts are an essential part of a complete education. It may also be counter-productive in the long run as there seems to be some evidence that a vibrant arts program helps excite students about school and, therefore, helps support achievement in other academic areas.