Greencastle-Antrim Middle School students to ‘experience’ music

The Middle School/High School PTO donated $3,500 to the district’s new Music Experience program. Accepting the check at a recent school board meeting were, from left: middle school principal Mark Herman, instructor Alyson Balascik, PTO representatives Allison Appenzellar and Jamie Reynolds, and middle school assistant principal Melissa Shuey.

Sixth-grade students at Greencastle-Antrim Middle School will get an introduction to music like never before.

This year the school has launched Music Experience, designed to engage the youngest students in a participatory curriculum. As they advance through the grades, principal Mark Herman hopes every middle school student will become active in the performing arts.

Alyson Balascik, also the elementary music teacher, handles sixth-grade band. She is supported by fellow staff, Eric Plum, instrumental music; and Roz Bingaman, chorus.

The secondary schools PTO donated $3,500 for startup costs. Balascik will purchase music-making instruments appropriate for the classroom. Through a rotating schedule, she will meet with every student, even if they are also taking band or choir. The sixth-graders can be enrolled in one, two or all three of the options.

“Everything is experience-oriented for active engagement,” said Herman.

“We’re hoping through Music Experience they will connect more and get excited with learning music.”

Course content varies with dance, indoor guard, instrumental play and general music theory, among other topics.

The goal is to spur the students to appreciate music when required courses are over. Eventually the entire student body could be inspired to continue participating in music at a group or personal level. The test will be measurable, as the school tracks how many seventh and eighth graders join band, chorus, extracurricular activities, take lessons or perform with outside organizations.