By Laura Raines, Artistic Development Intern
The Music Man is a classic American musical that reminds us of the power of the arts to rejuvenate a struggling community, so when it was chosen for the 2011-2012 Season, we felt it was necessary to connect with our own artistic community in the DC metropolitan area. As such, we have partnered with several local marching bands that will be featured in select performances of The Music Man over the course of its run. On June 1 and June 5, our partner will be the Surrattsville High School Marching Hornets from Clinton, Maryland. Valerie Dent, the band director at Surrattsville High School, was kind enough to speak to us about her band, and the importance of arts education in our community.
What made you want to become a music educator?
I knew that I wanted to become a music educator when I was in high school band class helping other students learn their music. It was so fun and exciting. I love to see that "a-ha moment" when the light bulb comes on and my students finally understand the music.
How does being in the marching band have a positive impact on your students?
Being in the marching band has a positive impact on my students because it teaches them how to read and play challenging music, motivates them to do well in school and keeps them very busy.
What are some of your band’s greatest achievements?
- 1st place – Best in class Walt Disney World, Orlando FL Spring 2012
- 1st place- Virginia State University High School Band Parade Competition Oct. 2011, Oct 2010, Oct 2009, Sept. 2008
- 1st place-Performing Arts Festival Bahamas Cruise 2006
- Oxon Hill High School Marching Band Competition 2010
1st place Drum Majors
2nd place Dance Team
What is it about your band that makes it different from any other?
The level of commitment that I get from my students makes my band different from others. No matter how many shows or performances we have, the students in my band always embraces the challenge to do their very best.
What excites you about being involved in Arena Stage’s production of The Music Man?
I love to introduce my students to new music opportunities. I truly think that this performance will be a great experience for my band students.
Why do you believe arts education is important?
Arts education is important because it gives students something to get excited about in school. Cultivating the mind of a student musician instills in them the belief that they can do anything through hard work and dedication. Like I always say to my students, “If you believe it, you can achieve it.” Think Music!!!