Music plays vital role in Baldwin High School band members' lives

| Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Music shaped them. It made them who they are today. It taught them team work and integrity.

Music played a vital role in the lives of the members of the Baldwin High School Marching Band that performed for the SupportMusic Community Forum, held at the high school last week, as an introduction to the High School Nation Tour, they said.

“People should continue to support music. If it wasn't there, life wouldn't be as interesting,” Baldwin High School senior Cara Koenig, 17, a clarinet player in the marching band, said after touring the John Lennon Education Tour Bus stationed at the school on Oct. 3.

The SupportMusic Community Forum has joined the High School Nation Tour in four locations across the United States this fall to promote advocacy for music education, said Mary Luehrsen, the National Association for Music Merchants director of public affairs.

Education and music leaders from across Pennsylvania and Baldwin High School gathered on the school stage on Oct. 3 to discuss the importance of keeping music education in the classrooms and how they can unite to achieve this.

Engaging community leaders in conversations is important, Luehrsen said. Keeping conversations going about why the arts are needed also is vital, she said.

Baldwin High School director of bands Greg Steele said creating a memorable experience for the students is important.

Margaret Bauer, executive director of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association, said with state budget cuts, she is seeing more music teaching roles across the state fail to be replaced after retirements.

Showing the life-long value of music education is important, she said.

Mark Despotakis, director of market development for Progressive Music, said it would be beneficial to show the steps that it takes to get someone musically acclimated.

“That didn't just happen. There's a lot of rehearsal that went into it,” he said of a performance.

Ensuring that the right policies and laws are set statewide also is important, said Ron Cowell, president of the Education and Policy Leadership Center.

Advocating for the arts requires discussions at many levels.

“If we get to the point where they're talking cuts, we've failed,” Luehrsen said.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or

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