Supporting Young Minds through Music Education

Mariah DavisPosted by Mariah Davis on March 4, 2020

The benefits of music and music education to the growing minds of young people are backed by decades of research. But music programs, along with all the arts, are often among the first to be cut in order to trim a school budget. At Mascoma Bank, we take pride in our mission to be a force for positive change and provide support for youth music education in our community.

Do you remember what your computer looked like in the year 2000? Can you imagine trying to transfer a file from that your current one? Or use load today’s software onto that machine? Could you get work done that way? How much time do you think you’d spend troubleshooting and repairing, instead of actually being productive?

This is the bind Andrea Nardone found herself in when she took on the role of vocal music teacher in the Performing Arts department at Hartford High School in Hartford, Vermont, four years ago. The school had a music tech lab, but the last time it was updated was 2000. “The pianos had to be programmed every time you wanted to use them. We did get new computers a year or two ago, but they were new and the pianos were old along with the software, so it was very difficult to use,” says Nardone.

So Nardone did what great teachers do: She found a way to solve the problem. In 2018, she applied for grants and received funds that enabled the program to purchase 16 new keyboards along with peripheral equipment. Now Nardone is able to listen to each student individually or the whole class as a group, and she can have students play duets with each other while the rest of the class continues to work. Having all of the equipment connected electronically means that she can communicate with students “on the fly, as they are composing,” she says.

Music room with workstations containing a computer and musical keyboard
The music room at Hartford High School

And people have been noticing the impact of her efforts. At the Vermont Music Educators Association Fall Conference, Nardone was named as the Outstanding New Music Educator for 2019.

Just across the Connecticut River, in Lebanon, New Hampshire, another music program has seen support from Mascoma Bank.

Camerata Strings Program–Lebanon (originally called the Lebanon Strings Program) began as a partnership between Camerata New England, a chamber music performance ensemble, and SAU 88 to establish a viable and sustainable after-school strings program.

From the inception of Camerata New England in 2012, contributing to the greater community has been an important part of its mission. To that end, Camerata Strings Program–Lebanon (CSP–L) was started in the same year. “The benefits of music are indisputable, immediate, and lifelong,” says Camerata New England Board Chair Carlos Galvan. “Research conducted over the last 40 years continues to show a positive correlation between arts education and improved academic achievement.” Studying the arts enhances intellectual achievement, wellness, and the teamwork skills needed in any profession, as well as emotional and behavioral patterns over the lifespan.

Students in grades two through six in the Lebanon school district may participate in CSP–L. They learn from talented, professional string musicians, and are provided with access to string instruments and required accessories, as well as printed musical scores, at no cost to the students or their families. Musical training includes how to play the cello or violin and an introduction to reading music and music theory, as well as the opportunity for both group and individual lessons.

There is no cost to the families or to the schools. The students in the program are provided with instruction, instruments and accessories, and sheet music, all paid for by the generous support of CSP–L.

“Mascoma Bank has been one of Camerata New England’s most loyal supporters since the performing ensemble was formed in 2012,” says Galvan. “We’re especially grateful for their continued support of both our chamber music performances, including sponsoring our programs and posters, and our educational outreach programs. The students in the Camerata Strings Program–Lebanon greatly benefit from Mascoma Bank’s continuing support, and we are all very grateful.”

We at Mascoma Bank are thrilled to be a part of the good work being done by nonprofit organizations and invite you to join us in supporting groups that make our communities healthier and happier.

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