Musicians recognized for sharp skills for eighth year


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  • Philharmonic orchestra performs at the Fall Concert.

    Annie Wang and Dorris Lee

  • Wind Symphony performs at the 2019 Winter Concert.

  • Jazz students perform with Robert Avzaradel at a basketball game against University High School.

  • Jazz students sophomore Eric Kwon plays the tenor saxophone, juniors Leanne Nguyen on the baritone saxophone and Justin Abestilla on alto saxophone play during basketball game.

  • Senior Joseph Jung performs solo during Jazz performance.

  • Marching band members sophomore Sunwoo Eom, freshman Julia Tonnu, sophomore Amelie Wang, freshman Medha Mohankumar, junior Ally Bautista, sophomore Annabelle Wu, junior Crystal Chen and sophomore Bhuvanasri Kotha prepare for Friday night football games.

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Photos reprinted with permission from Annie Wang, Doris Lee, Halley Chang and Ally Bautista

The music is dynamic: it fills the auditorium with its quick staccatos, the rising crescendos and falling diminuendos and the melodies and harmonies that leave the audience inspired, wondering, “how can mere students do that?”

Learning how to look at things musically has really changed my point of view on a lot of things for the better. It’s given me chances to improve my social life, education and musical abilities.”

— Rachel Nakasukasa

Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) was named as one of the nation’s Best Communities for Music Education by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation for the eighth year in a row. The honor recognizes the outstanding efforts made by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who made music education part of a well-rounded education.

“This honor is indicative of IUSD’s unwavering commitment to the arts and music education,” IUSD Director of Arts Education Brad Van Patten said, according to the IUSD website. “Despite being one of the lowest funded school districts in the nation, the arts have flourished for each child in IUSD schools under the Board of Education’s visionary leadership and the belief that the arts play an essential role in children’s education.”

IUSD provides a variety of music education to students at all grade levels. In the transitional kindergarten (TK) to third grade, music is provided once every two weeks. Sessions are twenty-five minutes for TK and kindergarten and forty minutes for first through third grade. From fourth through sixth grade, students receive two forty-minute sessions each week where they are first introduced to instrumental music. In middle school and high school, music becomes an elective providing a wide range from orchestra, band or vocal music for interested students.

“Being involved in music provides a place where students can be themselves, be supported by others, work together with others in a safe and supportive environment,” instrumental music department chair Robert Avzaradel said. “Perhaps the most common thread from past students is the calming and de-stressing it brought them through the school day, thus allowing them to be in a better mind set when going to their next class.”

Many studies show that having music education is beneficial towards students, showing that music helps improve test scores, increase IQ scores and helps the brain work harder. In addition, according to Mary Luehrisen, executive director of NAMM, schools that have rigorous programs and high-quality music and arts teachers probably also have high-quality teachers in other areas.

“Music education has given me so many opportunities to grow as a person both creatively and allowed me to expand my overall knowledge,”  Jazz I and II, Philharmonic Orchestra and Canta Bella student Rachel Nakasukasa said. “Learning how to look at things musically has really changed my point of view on a lot of things for the better. It’s given me chances to improve my social life, education and musical abilities.”