Showcase Highlights Growth of Talented Music Program

It’s hard to imagine Christmas without music.

Ringing bells, carols, Christmas pageants and performances are part of what makes the season so special.

Talented Music students from St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools presented their Christmas Music Showcase recently. These students provided three nights of performances for family, friends and teachers. There were violins, pianos, saxophones, flutes, vocalists and more.

Talented Music Teacher Kristen Brooks jokes that she doesn’t play everything (yet) but is willing to help students learn whatever type of instrument they’re interested in. Brooks is one of two Talented Music teachers in the district, along with Mrs. Charlene Burlak.

Their three nights of musical performances proves an exciting trend that’s expanded music education in the district ever since it received a VH1 Save the Music Foundation grant four years ago. At that time, there were only seven Talented Music students in parish schools. This year, we have over 50 students enrolled in Talented Music and our teachers are working hard to grow that number even more.

“Music is a lifelong character building skill that can enrich and benefit the student and those around them,” Brooks said. “Learning music has been proven to improve skills in math, and overall grades. For those who excel in music, having the talented program gives them more opportunities to learn and perform, which accelerates their ability to improve their musicality. They learn discipline, self-confidence, teamwork, self-expression, patience and more.”

Students in the program attend music class at least once a week during their enrichment period and teachers work with them either individually or in small groups. Further scheduling is worked out between parents, teachers and students and each year these parties meet, along with administrators, to discuss progress and set new goals. In high school, students can schedule Talented Music as a class and earn Carnegie units in the arts to count toward graduation.

A parent, teacher or administrator may recommend a student for the program. The recommendation goes through a school committee. After being recommended by a school committee and upon parental approval, the student is interviewed and must prepare two pieces to perform for the screening. They may be vocal songs, instrumental or both. A student doesn't need to read music and may even compose their own songs.

If the student passes the screening, they repeat the process for two state-approved test administrators. Students in K-6 have an additional section of their state test that involves listening to music and answering questions about it. As you can see, it’s not an easy process and one that requires dedication on the part of the student.

The process is similar for other Talented Arts programs, such as Talented Theater, where students prepare monologues, and Talented Art, where they provide drawings.

Parents who think their child qualifies for any of these programs should send a letter or email requesting their child be screened to their child’s teacher or school counselor. For more information about any of these programs contact the Milesville Special Education office at 985.652.9250.