The National Association of Music Merchants Foundation recently recognized the Bay Village City School District on its 2023 list of Best Communities for Music Education.
Bay Village has received the National Association of Music Merchants recognition every year since 2003, according to district communications Karen Misciagna.
The program is just one of 830 school districts nationally to make the list, and one of only 47 in the state of Ohio, Misciagna said.
“Standards for inclusion on the prestigious Best Communities for Music Education list have increased consistently over the last (20-plus) years,” she said. “But the Bay Village City School District has once again been honored for its exemplary music program.”
Programs looking to be named to the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation’s list must complete a detailed survey, according to Misciagna.
Survey questions include graduation requirements, music class participation and overall program support, she said.
Bay Schools District Superintendent Scot Prebles showed pride in not only the music program, but the support it receives from parent boosters and the Board of Education.
“I applaud the commitment of our music educators, who provide our students with not only a learning opportunity, but also a creative outlet to explore and express their creativity and talent,” Prebles said. “I also know that without the support of our families and residents, including the Bay Music Boosters, this award would not be possible.”
Supporting the arts
For the last 16 years, Darren Allen has been the director of bands for the district.
A nationally recognized band director, Allen has helped to oversee Bay Village City School District’s current period of musical prosperity.
Much like Prebles, Allen noted that the difference that sets Bay Village apart from other school districts is the support the arts programs receive.
“I’ve taught at a few schools before I got to Bay, but I’ve been at Bay now for over 16 years,” Allen said. “I think the winning secret, if there is one, is that everybody is supportive of what we’re doing: from the Board of Education, to the administration, to the parents, to the music boosters.”
The theme of support is a strong one throughout Bay Village’s music program, Allen said.
The bands and orchestras all are encouraging of one another, he said, which strengthens the program as a whole.
“We start most of the music instrumentalists in fifth grade,” Allen said. “They come to us ready to go, and I think that they hang in there for eight years with us, and with busy schedules.
“These kids are way busier than you or I; they’re in 80 different things, but they stick with it because they love it.”
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Allen said that the programs were able to power through and become even more united. The struggles of teaching and learning instruments online provided different methods of thinking about music education.
“The pandemic hit and, you know, it was ‘How are you singing? How are you playing a wind instrument during a pandemic,’ ” he said. “A lot of research went into that, and we kept the kids doing music and again, we were supported in that venture.”
Allen also thanked his staff for their work in strengthening the musical abilities of Bay Village youths.
Without their efforts, the program would not be in the position it is today, he said.
“It means that we’re doing the right things, and we’ve been doing the right things for years,” Allen said. “Our staff is amazing here, and works really hard to get the most out of our students’ talents.”