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Another Voice: Keep instrumental programs to benefit students, city

By JoAnn Falletta

In my 13 years in Buffalo, I have been deeply impressed by our city’s artistic heritage. At the core of that heritage are the educational values our schools have provided for our young people. I firmly believe that the Buffalo Philharmonic and our other arts organizations would not have been able to flourish without the foundation of cultural life that our schools have provided for decades. In the most difficult economic times, Buffalo has never let go of the belief that our young people and all the citizens of our city deserve to live in an artistic environment.

I know that all of us want the very best education for our children. Please let me share with you my absolute belief that the arts are the key to their success. I often visit schools around the country. When I am there, I spend time with the members of the orchestra, the band, the chorus. I always find that these young people are also the “A” students, members of the student council, active in social causes, articulate, bright and engaging young people.

Did they choose music because they were high achievers? I strongly believe that the inverse is the truth – that the opportunity they had to participate in music helped create their success in school. The arts teach students the keys that will help them succeed in anything they try. The arts teach self-respect and respect for others. They help young people understand the meaning of quality, of hard work, of cooperation, dedication and commitment to excellence. They encourage understanding of different cultures. They teach the value of patience and diligence and the fact that anything worthwhile takes time and hard work. Best of all, these lessons are learned in an atmosphere of joy and collegiality.

There are few things more wonderful than the satisfaction of a young musician at the end of a concert that has taken months to bring to that level of excellence, and the fact that he or she has worked in a group with others to create something special is the most valuable lesson of all.

Only a small handful of them will become professional musicians. But the lessons that music teaches them will help them excel in whatever profession they ultimately choose. I am absolutely certain that the opportunity to study music is one of the greatest gifts we can give our schoolchildren.

The workplace of today requires creativity, understanding and dedication to excellence. Music will give our children those skills. Music will help them learn, think and succeed. Along with all the musicians of the Buffalo Philharmonic, I respectfully and passionately ask you to give our children that chance at success. Please save the instrumental music programs in our city by supporting them at the district level.

Please keep the arts at the center of Buffalo’s life and heritage.

JoAnn Falletta is music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.