TELLURIDE – With budgetary shortfalls affecting school districts across the country, school music programs have steadily been going the way of the dinosaur. But not in Telluride.
The Telluride Schools hired two new music teachers this fall, and with them comes an exciting new era for the Telluride Schools’ music program. Tuck Gillett and Anna Robinson are the 5th-12th grade and kindergarten-4th grade music teachers, respectively, and together they hope to develop a first-rate music program for Telluride’s students.
They’re already well on their way to building a musically proficient generation of Telluride youngsters. Thanks to the recent purchase of 50 slick new keyboards (25 at each school), Telluride’s music program has already jumped into the new age with an innovative keyboard program designed to foster musical intelligence from even the youngest ages. Furthermore, the Telluride Middle and High School Performing Arts Department is getting a boost thanks to the schools’ new music programs, with a new school musical planned for this spring. Little Shop of Horrors will be mounted in late March, and to support this new venture, the performing arts and music departments will host a five-course Tuscan feast fundraiser at the Palm next Thursday, Nov. 18.
With schools everywhere axing arts and music programs in favor of core curriculum, the question posed to Telluride’s new music teachers is this: Why does music matter? For Gillett – whose passion for music is apparent as he picks up a bass to thump out an impromptu beat – answering that question is straightforward.
“The fact of the matter is, music is a part of everyone’s life and it always has been, across all cultures,” he says, his background in musicology and ethnomusicology (or as he explains it, the anthropological side of music) becoming quickly apparent.
Illuminating the many ways in which music can fit in with the more traditional educational curriculum is a big part of what Gillett and Robinson hope to bring to their music program. Telluride’s seventh graders recently studied the local watershed, and to integrate music into that experience, Gillett’s seventh grade music class performed the Talking Heads’ “Nothing but Flowers,” a song about sustainability that integrates cross-cultural musical themes in its African/Latin percussion.
“Whatever they’re talking about in the classroom, I want to be singing about in music class,” he explains.
Robinson also believes that even the youngest students can benefit from an early education in music, one that will translate into musical competence later in life. “It’s not about creating the next musical virtuoso, nor is it about sending all of our students off to music school,” she explains. “It’s about having them grow into adults feeling comfortable participating in music, and helping to create that musical confidence.”
The Telluride Schools’ refreshed music program will have its first big debut next Thursday, when they host their “Big Night fundraiser” Tuscan meal in the Palm lobby. There will be music, theater and comedy, all courtesy of Telluride School’s performing arts department.
The Big Night begins with a trattoria-style meal crafted by chef Michael Goller, at 5:30 p.m. During dinner, student musicians will perform themes by favorite classical composers: Mozart, J.S. Bach, Beethoven and more. School thespians and comics will also perform.
Tickets are $50 or $90/couple and may be purchased at the intermediate school office located in the Palm lobby from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Tickets for just the show ($10/adults, $5/students) may be purchased at the door at 7 p.m.