Friday, December 5, 2014

Why This Is Important

Emily in a Mohawk Marching Band uniform in the early 1980's

A note from Emily Robertson:

My father likes to tell people our family lived in Ashfield even before it was incorporated as a town. Having that continuity, knowing that I am a placeholder between past and future generations, makes participating in community organizations as important as what I do to maintain our individual household. There are many organizations that play a vital role in the education, growth, and prosperity of our communities to choose from. Currently, I serve as treasurer of the Mohawk Music Association and am also an elected Mohawk Trail Regional School District School Committee Member representing the Town of Ashfield.

As chair of the education subcommittee, I could go into a very long spiel about the importance of music education in the schools and its spill-over benefits into other disciplines. As a Mohawk Alumna I could tell you stories about what Mohawk Music meant to me when I was a kid. And as a mom of three, who have all participated in the Music and Drama programs at Mohawk, I could tell you what an impact those opportunities have had on their growth and development.

But the fact that you are here, reading my story, lets me know you already value music education in our schools. What you may not know is the reason the Mohawk Music Department has been having so many fundraisers this fall and why we are still asking for help above and beyond the generosity we see every year.

Mohawk Select Chorus performs at Disney World in 1986

Most of you will agree that for multiple reasons, it is critical for music students to get out and “hear the world”, to perform for different audiences, and to get professional, constructive feedback. (Imagine a sports team that only plays home games.) That is what our music trips are all about. In fact, I was a high school senior the first year the Mohawk Music department took a trip to Orlando and never would have had the opportunity to go otherwise. As the wife of a dairy farmer, I told my kids the only way they would get to Disney World would be to stay in the Music Department and go on a performance trip. Unfortunately, the last trip to Florida took place just one year before my eldest was eligible. Now, the cost of one bus is a staggering $20,000 so it’s not something the Music Department could even consider, as the cost per student would be much too high.

Even on the High School Music Department trip to nearby New York City this past April, only half of our music students were able to go, with financial hardship being the primary obstacle. (Imagine that sports team earning a spot in a championship match but only half of the team shows up.) It hurts everybody, not just the students left behind.

The Mohawk Music Association tries to raise $10,000 annually for scholarships, uniforms, trips, workshops, and activities that are not included in the school budget. This year, we are trying to raise an additional $3,000 to help defray the remaining transportation costs for our trip to Colonial Williamsburg in order to maximize participation. And the students are working to earn enough to cover their portion of the trip cost as well.

The good news is, there are many ways to help. Financial support is always welcome, but we also value your ideas and input, baked goods to sell at performances, volunteer hours working a booth or table, or assistance with uniforms, and spreading the word to your coworkers, family and friends about who we are, what we do, and why this is important.

As always, thank you so much for your support! Please consider donating to the Mohawk Music Association on Valley Gives Day on Wednesday, December 10, 2014.