By DAVID GREEN
Don’t tell Keith Filipek that music is just something extra in the school curriculum. In his opinion, it’s a key part of a well-rounded program.
“People often look at music, art and physical education as extras that are just there for fun,” Mr. Filipek told Morenci Board of Education members Dec. 7. “I disagree. They’re essential to the academic program.”
Mr. Filipek presented the monthly “educational topic” at the last school board meeting. Each month a facet of the school program is highlighted.
Mr. Filipek said a course in his graduate studies made him stop and think about his role as a music teacher.
“I’ve been teaching for 20 years, but never took the time to think about why I do what I do,” he said.
When a student learns to read, he said, pitch, inflection, etc., are part of the process, and those are all musical attributes, also.
Mr. Filipek told about studies showing that for standardized tests, schools with good music programs outperform those with a weak program. English and mathematical skills also improve, he said, due to a boost in IQ gained through musical skills.
Studies have also shown an increase in self-esteem and self-confidence, and students show a greater tolerance for differences. In addition, students showed better classroom behavior and were less disruptive.
“I think it’s all about discipline,” Mr. Filipek said, “similar to athletics.”
The word “quality” is the key, said Morenci Superintendent of Schools Kyle Griffith.
“At Morenci we have a quality music program from kindergarten to 12th grade,” he said.
Griffith mentioned that a Morenci Education Foundation mini-grant will fund the production of “Annie Jr.,” a musical involving students in grades three to nine. Mr. Filipek will direct the production later in the school year.
Mr. Filipek introduced his talk by recalling the argumentative school board in the musical, “The Music Man.” Once the board members learned to sing together, Mr. Filipek said, they all got along well.
At that point he passed out song sheets to the board and audience, brought them all to their feet and led everyone in song.