Hoban needs a music program


photo via University of Massachusetts

“Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.” –Psalms 105:3-5


Ever since my first day freshman year, I’ve noticed something missing from the Hoban experience. The hallway, always filled with a cacophony of voices, never echoes with haunting harmony, robust rhythm and yes, mistakenly-missed notes. Pep rallies, always ringing with cheers and jubilant shouts, lack a melodic backbone to erase the silent spells. Even football games, despite the upbeat tempo of the cheer and dance teams’ backtrack, fail to deliver a spiritually-engaging, heart-racing, foot-tapping beat. And while the steel drum band does work to overcome some of this deafening silence, it never completely fills the void.

Yes, Hoban needs to bridge this of forgotten sound. Hoban needs a devoted music program. 

Now, I realize that past attempts to integrate music education into the lives of students has occurred–steel drum and choir the most prominent examples. We even tried to put together a drum line (a fair shot but still falling short in the end). But these few examples only brush the surface of music education and some, like choir and drum line, were not offered to students this year, regardless of the state of COVID-19 pandemic. Other schools proceeded with their performing arts, why couldn’t Hoban do the same?

As a school rooted in the Christian faith, it is imperative to offer such a critical subject to students. The Bible chronicles the Psalms and Songs of Solomon, each of which were originally written to be songs praising the Lord. Our faith encourages us to join in verse and song; to feel the rhythm and constant beat; to experience music’s soothing and healing qualities. Without the prospect of music education, Hoban misses an excellent opportunity to fulfill its duty of fostering the hearts and minds of students, failing to engage them in an important part of the Christian tradition.

To further this dilemma, Hoban fails to capture the interest of prospective musically-inclined students, all but encouraging them to search for other schools that offer these programs. Upon enrolling at Hoban, I was shocked to learn we didn’t have a music program, let alone a concert band. As a budding musician, I was forced to choose academic rigor over symphonic immersion. The only option remained outside organizations.

However, this avenue does not appeal to many traditional band students, causing Hoban to lose students to Saint-Vincent-Saint-Mary’s and their public schools equivalents each year–solely due to our lack of musical offerings.

Obviously, the solution will not happen overnight. It may take years to fully realize the potential a music program would offer to Hoban students. However, it is of the utmost importance to lay the groundwork for such a curriculum if this school hopes to appeal to the future artists and high-minded students of the future. 

Studies show students involved in the musical arts often outperform their classmates in other core-curricular classes. This correlation relates to a musician’s ability to tap into both sides of their brain and apply these critical thinking skills to real-life situations. These same students often score higher on standardized tests and find themselves able to handle an intense workload due to the complex nature of music studies.

A music program would not only attract these high-minded students but also engage those who, inept at other art forms like visual and theatrical, struggle in Hoban’s current fine arts classes. Without another option, these students may receive poor grades.

And while Steel Drum certainly takes a step in the right direction, it only brushes the surface of music education. Especially for those students already versed in vocals or other instruments; it seems like a half-hearted attempt at infusing music into our curriculum. A designated music program would not only provide a traditional choir and concert band, but could open the door to music theory, history and contemporary studies, offering a plethora of opportunities to satisfy the state’s fine arts requirement. If Hoban chooses to offer numerous visual art-related courses, why can’t we make the same effort to branch into musical studies?

And looking beyond the academic benefits of a music program, it’s important to recognize the community-aspect these classes instill. Moving ballads, emotionally-charged lyrics, a slight, yet powerful dynamic shift all work to create a soulful, spiritually-engaging trance that unites people around shared experiences. Imagine the bellow of horns assuring our student section a force to be reckoned with, the eerie cadence of trained percussionists adding to our Mum Day celebrations, the resounding enthusiasm the woodwinds would spur before a big game. By limiting itself to steel drum, Hoban fails to acknowledge the spirited, motivating power a band and music program would have on its morale.

This work cannot be accomplished overnight. It is time for Hoban to step up and make the changes necessary to further integrate music into its curriculum. This process will take time as all good plans do, of course. However, it can no longer be put on the back burner. It must be built from the ground up, and a collective effort must be present amongst administration, alumni and students to implement this change. 

Even the relatively small public school district I came from, was able to fill an entire stadium and outplay our larger competitors at band showcases with just 50 members. 

This example serves to illustrate the power and ease at which music can motivate people to accomplish amazing feats. But if there’s a will, there’s a way. And eventually, our music program can fill the halls and hearts of students with the same force that leads a small group of 50 to move hundreds of people to their feet.

With love, care and a whole lot of patience, Hoban would finally be able to praise the Lord with the resounding melodies and echoing chords illustrated in Psalm 105. After all, it only takes a small cymbal crash to set a whole composition in motion.