A lot of students pour through a school district's music program, but only a few of them put in the effort, show dedication and develop the skills necessary to carry on with their music education after graduation.
It's incredibly rewarding when a student follows that path, said Matthew Nordhausen, who teaches 5th and 6th-grade band in the Le Roy Central School District as well as serves as the district's primary percussion instructor.
"We obviously feel some pride in being able to help them build those skills to pass the auditions," Nordhausen said. "It's also incredibly rewarding, in about four years from now, when they graduate, and they go out into the workforce -- especially those that go into music education, because chances are, they'll come back to this area, and they might end up being our colleagues."
That's happened, he said. Nordhausen said he's been teaching long enough -- 20 years -- now that he has former students teaching in Batavia and Monroe County.
On Thursday, Le Roy recognized five graduating seniors who are continuing their music education.
- Jackson Cain, SUNY Fredonia for Music Education
- Alexiana Clarke, SUNY Fredonia for Music Education
- Connor McGee, SUNY Fredonia for Music Education
- Evan Williams, Point Park for Music Theater
- Nathan Yauchzee, SUNY Potsdam Crane School of Music for Music Business
Le Roy has a reputation in the region for quality music education, and Nordhausen said that comes down to the support the district gives to the Music Department and their ability to hire dedicated and talented teachers.
"The five of us -- Miss (Tasha) Dotts, Miss (Jessa) Dechant, myself, Mr. (Jeffrey) Fisher, and Miss (Jackie) McLean -- we do work tirelessly for these kids, it's a 24/7 life, not a job. We're helping the kids before school, after school, anything they need, we're always accessible."
The district has helped ensure teachers hired are also qualified on instruments to provide individual instructions, and that is something, Nordhausen said, that many districts can't offer.
"It allows somebody like myself, who is primarily at the elementary school, to still be able to come up here (the high school) and teach my primary instrument, percussion, which allows our kids to get private instruction all the way through their senior year. That level of instruction is just unheard of. In another school district, you're going to have to seek out outside-of-school private lessons, but these kids are getting specific instruction on percussion for me and brass from Miss Dechant and woodwinds from Miss Dotts."
Nordhausen is obviously enthusiastic about music education, and he encourages parents to get their children involved in music -- or any of the arts -- even if the parents have no background in music or art on their own.
Music is forever, he noted.
"Whether you have a musical family quote unquote or not, if you find a love of anything, whether that be music or art, then you should follow that passion through," Nordhausen said. "If you get involved in a great school district and a great program and a supportive one then you're going to be able to build those skills. I've often said, of myself, I am not the most talented musician, but I will be one of the hardest working ones. My colleagues are both talented and hardworking. And you can certainly overcome a quote-unquote a lack of talent if you're willing to put in the time and the effort."