Submitted by Erica Overbay
Music is an integral part of the daily life of many individuals. It has the power to encompass the wide spectrum of human emotion and portray it in strong melodies and beautiful instrumentation. Music can lift your spirits during a rough day, share in your jubilance when life deals you a good hand, and relate to all feelings in between.
As imperative as music is to one’s daily life, it remains one of the areas of education that is slowly disintegrating across the nation. Music educators are fighting to keep music alive to allow students to experience the beauty and intrigue of the art, especially in Knox County, as well as its surrounding counties.
“I want my students to have a big opportunity to express themselves and step outside of the box,” said Eddie Campbell, choir director for Knox County High School. I believe this can be achieved by giving students options to enhance their talent.”
Beginning Choir, Advanced Choir, and Chamber Choir are all offered at KCHS, allowing students to recognize and hone in on their musical niche. Students from all choir classes, as well as the band classes, under the direction of Darrell Dixon, remain actively involved in concerts and events throughout the school year.
Campbell and Dixon work with Knox County Middle School to ensure students are not only prepared for scheduled events, but prepared to succeed in music upon entering high school.
Mark Felts, Choir Director at South Laurel High School, also recognizes the importance of keeping the music alive in schools.
“I love seeing the love of music grow in the students. I love seeing their musicianship grow,” says Felts.
Harlan County High School Choir Director Jeanne Lee has also worked adamantly to keep their music program thriving. Students have the option to join a variety of band ensembles, as well as choir.
“I love the moment it all comes together for the students,” she said, “the moments when the students say, ‘Wow! We did it!’”
Lee is also part of the school administration and helps to decide needs within the curriculum. She addresses the problem that many teachers face when the issue of funding arises.
“Music is the first thing they want to cut,” says Lee. “They see it as unnecessary, which is not true. Music is very necessary and can help with other subjects.”
Lee further explained that music has healing power and can offer so many wonderful things to the overall wellbeing of an individual.
She added, “Denying students the opportunity to learn an instrument and enhance their vocal ability is a disservice to the children.”
Without dedicated instructors, willing to fight for the best interest of their students, music education could wither and fall into the realm of impossibility for the children of today.
The quality these instructors each possess, above their many accomplishments, is their unwavering love of teaching music. They all have a desire to share their love of music with their students, and they all long to see their students succeed.
While it is known that not all schools struggle with the funding of music programs, others are fighting for it with their last breath.
“I hope that others will continue to fan the flame of the passion of music,” said Lee, “and realize if you cut out music, you cut out the heart.”
Editor’s Note: Erica Overbey is a student at Union College.