South Orangetown Central School District

TZHS Chorus rehearsal

March is Music in Our Schools Month and to celebrate, we will be highlighting our music departments across the District! Last Friday, we visited Tappan Zee High School Chorale Director Russell Wagoner’s, DMA, class as they are busy preparing for their upcoming spring concert.

“Music education is a crucial part of the development of every student. It reaches parts of the students’ minds that goes beyond the daily learning and memorizing of facts and figures and develops the social and emotional learning and understanding of aesthetics,” Wagoner explained. “As we celebrate Music in Our Schools Month, I enjoy sharing with my musicians that we have the ability to teach all the subject areas within our curriculum. This spring, I get to include a focus on science and literature with our theme study on the moon.”

For the spring concert, the TZHS chorus and chorale will be performing several songs inspired by the moon. Their opening selection is “Moon Flight,” a song inspired by the flight of Apollo. They will also perform “Goodnight Moon,” which is based on the children’s book written by Margaret Wise Brown. To teach his students about various cultures, Wagner selects songs in different languages for each concert so they will be performing “Ciranda da Lua,” a song in Portuguese and “Floating Moon on the Water,” a song in Taiwanese. Students will also be exploring vocal jazz with “It’s Only a Paper Moon.”

Throughout the month, Wagner will be encouraging students to study the moon through several activities both in class and outside of class. “I introduced an ‘out of the box’ activity like studying the phases of the moon and then creating them out of Oreo cookies to help students reinforce events that take place every day in their lives that they may or may not recognize or understand,” said Wagner. For extra credit, students can track the phases of the moon each day in March, which will help them appreciate what transpires during the solar eclipse on April 8. “As music teachers, we approach teaching students not just about music elements, but the whole experience of what we are studying. For the singers in the choir, it’s like one-stop shopping,” noted Wagner. “You can taste every subject area with a beautiful melody ‘on the side.’”