What's Special About Our Music Program & Why It Matters (Steve Moreland, Director of Fine Arts)

At St. Michael’s, we go far beyond traditional high school music programs. Our students learn about how music is constantly changing and the ways in which it affects and reflects our society and culture. We explore how and why music fits into the broader spectrum of the arts, as shown in our recent The Times They Are A-Changin’ concert, for example. Comprehensive classes cover everything from Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven to the jazz age, rock-and-roll and modern pop music. We’ve studied the Beatles, Bob Dylan, the influence of Motown, and are now studying “the blues,” a uniquely American music genre. But there’s more.
What is also unique about the St. Michael’s program is its broad base and wide application throughout the curriculum, as well as extra-curricular options. In their first year, all students can take a music class. Depending on their interest and experience level, that may be Percussion & Rhythm, Varsity Symphony, Guitar I, or Advanced Guitar. From there, opportunities to learn and perform are widely available. From singing at Mass or performing in our Drumline and our many Crusader Bands, access to “making a joyful sound” is plentiful at St. Michael’s. In addition, our state-of-the-art recording studio setup is another of our teaching assets in which students are exposed to the technology behind music production.
As a student myself, I came from a music program that was entirely competition-driven. We spent countless hours playing three or four songs for an entire year to make them perfect - and to score well at music contests. Yes, we won awards and had very successful performances, but looking back I can honestly say that I didn’t learn much about music. In my entire high school experience, I was only exposed to a small sample of music, and it wasn’t until years later that realized I’d missed out on entire bodies of music and learning, which has dramatically molded my method of teaching here at St. Michael’s. In our music studies, students are enriched by a variety of music and inspired to do some deeper digging on their own.  
 
After 11 years of teaching music, my philosophy has evolved. The overarching goal of our program is to instill a sense of appreciation for music. Students are allowed to participate in music classes as widely as possible, one facet of how a St. Michael's education is driven by the student experience. As a result, they cultivate personal enrichment so that they leave St. Michael’s as lifelong music lovers, invested in the future of the arts - a philanthropic mindset we also actively cultivate here at St. Michael’s. 
 
We have very talented students in our school. While a few may ultimately go on to careers in music, I realize that most will not - and that’s okay!  Most importantly, the idea is for students to have enjoyed their time in music class, and some day encourage others to learn and love music, and who knows… maybe one of them will become the next Beethoven or Bob Dylan.   
Steve Moreland
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