Skills learned on the playing field can build more than just athletic prowess. They can lay a foundation for teamwork, for tenacity, for the ability to confront life’s challenges head on.
And while the route may be less strenuous, the roadmap to a successful, rewarding adulthood lies within the reach of many young people who pursue yet another passion: orchestral music.
That’s not just one man’s theory. It’s the lifelong zeal nourished by Scott Glasser on the campus of Marcos de Niza High School, where he has taught orchestra for the last two years.
“While some individuals may not pursue athletics or connect to every academic subject, they often find a home in music.”
Glasser took on the orchestra-director post two years ago after teaching music in a declining Catskills region of New York, where small, struggling communities dotted the landscape. It was an interesting and diverse area, he said, small and rural. His classroom accommodated hopeful young musicians in the wide span of ages from fourth to 12th grade, and the socioeconomics of the area made the job all the more challenging.
So when Glasser learned about an opportunity to succeed longtime Marcos orchestra director Ellen McCurdy in Tempe, he was quick to accept the offer.
And while the Marcos assignment has provided opportunities on a much larger scale than his previous position, it also has resulted in a new dilemma: wider interest in music and thus the need for more instruments.
So far, with a small stockpile of musical instruments available for loan, Glasser has managed to keep up with the demand. Now, however, he’s finding many instruments are either beyond repair or otherwise unplayable.
Recognizing that his supply of instruments was running thin, Glasser and his students entered a competition sponsored by the National Educational Music Co., first prize for which is a $10,000 contribution to be used for the purchase of new orchestral equipment for the winning school.
The orchestra members have submitted the required video of a recent performance, and are waiting for final online votes to be tallied April 30.
While the group is optimistic, they know they’re up against some serious talent from schools all over the country.
Win or lose, however, Glasser will continue to have faith in the skill and determination of his young musicians.
“No matter what, we have a very solid program here; it’s what drew me to Marcos.”
Which relates back to his belief in music as a springboard for his students’ futures, and as a way to instill in them a lifelong appreciation of how music can have a positive influence on their lives.
“Not every student is going to be an all-state performer,” said Glasser. “But by gaining an appreciation of music, they also learn critical skills that they can use across the board: how to problem-solve, how to work as a team, how to think outside the box.”
Much as their athlete counterparts learn to do on the playing field.
Because the winner of the NEMC’s $10,000 first prize will be based on popular votes cast for videos submitted by school orchestras around the country, Marcos orchestra members are encouraging relatives, friends—and the community—to view their submission at www.nemc.com/contests/vote. And, of course, to mark their online ballot in support of the Marcos entry.
Photos by Billy Hardiman