Providing interested children with high-quality musical instruction was an important goal when St. Albans City School was built 50 years ago. A specialized band room was built, instruments were purchased and skilled instruction was provided. Ever since that time, musical instrument and band training have continued to be solidly supported. Consequently, generations of students have become musicians at St. Albans City School and have gone on for further training at BFA and beyond. The arts were an important part of the school from it’s origin, and as we go through this year we will be sharing with you the stories of the people meeting these expectations today.
Two years ago, our celebrated and long-time band instructor, Mr. Frank Mehaffey retired. He left some big teaching shoes to fill. Fortunately, St. Albans City School found Mr. Zach Kelly, an equally talented music instructor that is carrying on the historic vision for the program. His mission is to help as many students as possible experience the joy of playing music. Mr. Kelly sees over 90 students weekly in individual lessons or in one of four different band groups; 5th-grade band, 6th-grade band, 7th/8th-grade band, and the jazz band. He reports that the number of students signing up to learn an instrument and to perform in one of the bands is increasing steadily. Eventually, Mr. Kelly hopes to have at least a ⅓ of the school participate in his music program on a yearly basis.
What Mr. Mehaffey recognized, and what Mr. Kelly understands too, is that success at teaching music depends on making a meaningful connection with each student individually.
To learn willingly, students need to know that their music instructor cares about them, will give them personal attention, and will create frequent opportunities for them to shine. Equally important, students need to know that their instructor holds them to high musical standards. Students must show up prepared to demonstrate progress due to practice and bring with them a willingness to work with other students as an effective team. Observers can tell that Mr. Kelly pays close attention to what each student is doing and interacts with them in a firm and fun-loving way. Lessons learned from Mr. Kelly of disciplined practice and perseverance will serve students well as musicians and in other areas of their lives.
If your child is at St. Albans City School and has some interest in music, it would be well worthwhile to have her or him explore learning on an instrument under Mr. Kelly’s instruction. You are welcome to see the product of our students’ learning and hard work at a range of musical performances offered over the school year. The next scheduled event is the Instrumental Winter Concert to be held on Thursday, December 5th from 6:00 to 7:30 PM in the St. Albans City School large gymnasium. We hope to see you there.