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Music Education Strikes a Chord with Students

Three+music+classes+in+session+at+Wheeling+Park+High+School
Three music classes in session at Wheeling Park High School

Wheeling Park High School is often commended for the skills and talents that are housed within its music department. However, music education is not always seen as a priority. Park students who choose to participate in the music department will spend their time working with Mrs. Joyce Jingle and Mrs. Christie Greenwood for choir, Mr. Jason Birch for band, and Mr. Ben Podolski for strings.

Mrs. Jingle has been a music teacher for 46 years and feels strongly about the importance of music education within schools.

“It nourishes and develops that part of a person that you don’t always reach with academics – the soul, the spirit, the emotional side of a person,” Jingle said. “I would like to think that music education exists for music’s sake.  When we can move beyond the notes on the printed page music can take you to places that not all academic subjects can reach. Music allows a person to explore and express their feelings.”

Mr. Podolski has been a music educator for 39 years; however, he did not start off wanting to go into music education.

“My parents decided for me to go into music education,” Podolski said. “They wanted to make sure I had a job. I wanted to be a performer. But as I student taught, I realized that I really liked teaching students music.”

Mr. Birch has been a music educator for sixteen years officially, but also taught percussion for four years at Wheeling Park while in college.

“It nourishes and develops that part of a person that you don’t always reach with academics – the soul, the spirit, the emotional side of a person,”

— Joyce Jingle

“I do buy into that philosophy of being a well-rounded student,” Birch said. “So I think it’s important for every child to have some kind of music education… I think it’s that release… It’s something you can do that releases the energy, creativity… it allows students to get away from the real world… and actually create something.”

The students within the department all share a passion for music, whether they plan on attending school for it or not.

Brendan Loy is a member of the Young Patriots choir and the band, in which he serves as the field commander.

“I think there’s something special about being a musician,” Loy said. “I think being a musician gives you more creativity to express yourself in different ways… Music education has impacted my life through showing me that…there are other people that are willing to help me do what I want to do. Mr. Birch, for instance, he’s been my teacher since I was in third grade, and he was who really got me into music.”

“I think being a musician gives you more creativity to express yourself in different ways…

— Brendan Loy

Grace Robertson-Villamagna is one of the few students who is part of all three classes as a member of the Young Patriots choir, band, and strings.

“First of all, it’s an outlet for me, one hundred percent,” Robertson-Villamagna said. “The best thing is to be able to have that break in my day… I feel like in music departments I’ve been able to fit in a lot because I just have a very musical mind. And whenever I’m surrounded by people with musical minds… it’s a way for me to connect to the people around me.”

Robertson-Villamagna also touched on why all three classes are so important to her, and why it has been worth keeping them all despite how much time they take up.

“The thing is with music, I feel like I can never have enough of it,” Robertson Villamagna said. “Music just makes me so happy, so the thought of quitting orchestra or band or choir, it can’t even cross my mind… I love making music so much… Even though they’re all music, I feel like orchestra has shaped me in different ways than band has, and band has shaped me in ways that orchestra and choir have not been able to… without one or the other… I can’t imagine me being the person I am.”

Griffin Harder is a member of the Young Patriots choir and has a deep connection with music.

“I’ve been in…music…since sixth grade in middle school,” Harder said. “I grew up in a family of musicians… and I’ve always loved it… it’s made my life a lot more fun and enjoyable.”

But music education isn’t only important to current music students and teachers, it leaves a lasting impact on anyone who takes the time to learn about music.

Mrs. Kristen Wheeler is a math teacher at Wheeling Park High School, but was a member of the band in middle school and a Young Patriot in high school.

“Most of the friends I made in high school I met in the music department,” Wheeler said. “It was so awesome going through Festival of Sound and going through rehearsals with that… I think most of my friends came from that.”

Wheeler reflected fondly on how her music education has shaped not only her personality but her career path as well.

“I was an honors kid, an AP kid, and music just really gave me an outlet, especially for anxiety,” Wheeler said. “Aside from that, I learned a lot about math… I do attribute some of my success in math… to being in the band and learning to count and learning fractions.”

Music education is so important because it allows students to express themselves and find their creative voices. Mr. Birch, Mr. Podolski, Mrs. Jingle, and Mrs. Greenwood work tirelessly to ensure that Wheeling Park High School has the best possible music program it can have, and the experiences that kids have in this department are experiences that will follow them for the rest of their lives.

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About the Contributor
Taylor Andrews
Taylor Andrews, Managing Editor
  • Journalism II
  • Senior
  • Young Patriots Choir, Park Players President, Speech Team Interp Division Leader
  • Future Goal: Broadway Starlet
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