School music teacher requested

02/27/2014

Sixth-grade teacher David Whitney has asked Shoreline Unified School District’s board to not only reverse cuts that have been made to the music program at West Marin School but to employ a full-time music teacher, which would be a first for the school. At Thursday’s board meeting Mr. Whitney explained that the school had a part-time teacher until five years ago, when the position was cut due to budgetary limitations. Students still have some music opportunities, in part thanks to Mr. Whitney, who offers some classes to older students. But he argued that a full-time teacher, who could be paid out of the general fund, would ensure consistency in the program and provide a range of neurological and educational benefits: boosts in test scores, reading comprehension, spatial reasoning, memory and self confidence. Though the board could not respond because the item wasn’t officially on the agenda—it will likely be discussed in March—many in the audience supported the request. One mother praised Mr. Whitney for coaxing her shy sixth grader into singing and playing keyboard on stage after just a few months of music class. The audience might have seen that confidence in the students in Mr. Whitney’s so-called bucket brigade, which played before the presentation, but the dozen or so kids performed in pitch darkness. They drummed along to “Gangnam Style,” a frenetic South Korean dance song that exploded in the United States in 2012, drawing almost two billion views on YouTube. After the students took their seats on stage, each in front of an overturned plastic bucket, the room descended into blackness; only their green glow-in-the-dark drumsticks with orange tassels remained visible, hanging in the air like pairs of glowing neon whips.