What would life be like without music?
Very dull indeed, say music students at the Academy of Richmond County.
They stated their case strongly enough in a two-minute video to win a $10,000 prize in the Glee Give a Note contest last month.
The contest awarded 73 grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 to schools across the country to help support their music programs.
“We’re proud of our video and very appreciative,” said music instructor Owen Fletcher.
Entries had to address one tof three topics: demonstrate the music program’s financial need, focus on the television show Glee or address why schools should keep their music programs.
“(The last) was the part that stuck out to me,” Fletcher said. “I just had the idea, what would life be like without music?”
In the video, students show what would happen if music were removed from an action movie, the radio, choral programs, a symphony and a garage rock band.
“If you can’t imagine a life without music, why in the world would we take it out of schools?” the narrator asks.
The video ends with a song written and performed by Richmond Academy students.
Once the video was submitted, students had to drum up votes on the Glee Give A Note Web site. The entries with the greatest number of votes moved on to a private judging phase. Three $50,000 grand-prize grants, 10 $25,000 first-place grants and 60 $10,000 second-place grants were awarded. Harlem Middle School also won a second-place grant.
Fletcher said he learned of the contest only a week before the deadline and saw it as an opportunity to better equip his students to make music in a digital world. The music industry has evolved beyond just singing and playing instruments, but because of budgetary constraints, music programs in public schools struggle to keep up, he said.
“I guess the bottom line is, Richmond County has done a good job of preserving existing music programs, but it’s very difficult to go above and beyond with our budget. So this is going to give us the opportunity, I think, to do some new things and modernize the program even more,” he said.
The music facility at Richmond Academy has a recording studio the school was able to purchase during the renovation of the vocational wing. It would have been nearly impossible to get that kind of equipment under normal circumstances, Fletcher said.
The music instructor plans to use the award to help create a computer lab to enable him to teach larger groups of students about making and recording music.
Principal Tim Spivey said he appreciates not only the award, but also Fletcher’s initiative to improve the quality of the program.
“He’s an extremely smart individual (and) exceptionally talented,” Spivey said. “He is truly an asset to ARC.”