Staples music department lacks representation, attention


At Staples, the music department—including band, orchestra and chorus groups—does not receive as much attention as other school activities, such as academic groups, athletic teams and Players.

I attended a meeting after school on Friday, Oct. 1, for Tri-M (Music Honor Society). The meeting was held in the orchestra room, a space that I am more than familiar with, as I have been playing in grade-level and chamber orchestras since my freshman year. The meeting itself was intimate, as the only attendants were our advisor, who is a Staples music teacher, and the four members of the Executive Board: the president, vice president and co-secretaries.

While most of the discussion was limited to ideas for programs and policies we want to implement in Tri-M this upcoming year, there was a disheartening sense that could not be ignored. At Staples, the music department severely lacks attention from both students and the administration.

The music department is active throughout the entirety of the year, holding concerts in October, December, April and June. In addition to these concerts, musicians also participate in other events, such as Western Regionals, the All-State festival, community orchestras and performance groups. While Inklings may cover some of these events on the web, few of these concerts (including specialty concerts, such as Candlelight and Pops) are written about in the paper, although other school-related activities–like Players shows and sporting events–are regularly published in print. 

We have kept quiet for too long, and it is imperative that we lobby for ourselves to gain more recognition from our administrators and the student body

— Julia Herlyn ’23

In fact, last year, one of the music teachers emailed me and described the dismay he and his colleagues’ felt regarding the lack of publicity that the Staples music department has in Inklings. He also informed me that the Staples Jazz Combo had just received First Place at the National Jazz Festival. Wanting to showcase this impressive accomplishment, I pitched this story to Inklings, but it was, unfortunately, not taken, perhaps reflecting the lack of interest or engagement students have with the music department. 

In the Staples Facebook group, “Superfans,” where students from all grades are encouraged to share information about sporting events, spirit days and similar school-related activities, concerts are never advertised, or have not been since at least 2019. Historically, mass emails sent to all students by the administration do not address the music department, either, whereas athletic accomplishments, academic activities and Players shows do get considerably more attention and acknowledgement from our administrators. Even the morning announcements neglect to include information about the music department’s upcoming concerts or activities.

I do not attribute blame to only the administration, and similarly, I do not think it is students’ fault that they are unaware of the performances our ensembles put on during the year. I believe that musicians, along with music teachers, are responsible for advocating for themselves, and that the administration should promote our activities in turn through emails and announcements. We have kept quiet for too long, and it is imperative that we lobby for ourselves to gain more recognition from our administrators and the student body.

Furthermore, I am not implying that students involved in athletics or Players are not deserving of the attention they receive. Rather, I am vouching on behalf of my fellow peers–myself included–for we spend hours perfecting our craft both inside and outside of school to put on such concerts. The fact alone that we discussed the methods of making our department more visible at my Tri-M meeting is deeply saddening. As a school community, we must support and honor the work and talent of all students–it is certain that our musicians and music teachers deserve this, too.