Director of bands sounds off on performing arts design center at fall concert

Oliver Middle School Intermediate Band performs its fall concert Oct. 1, 2012. (Photo by Lee Roberts)
Oliver Middle School Intermediate Band performs its fall concert Oct. 1, 2012. (Photo by Lee Roberts)

By Lee Roberts

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Oct. 1, 2012) – The intermediate band at Oliver Middle School performed its fall concert today in the school’s cafeteria.  Parents ate up the performance, and afterward the director of bands sounded off on future plans to make the school a performing arts design center.

Susan G. Waters, in her 24th year of instrumental music education, said what this means is the school’s curriculum will eventually be focused within performing arts, but partnered with great academics.

“And so it’s not a lottery system to get in.  It’s just basically an understanding that if you come to this school we’re going to be performing arts oriented and academically oriented. It just gives us some freedom with scheduling and curriculum,” Waters said.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean visited Oliver Middle School May 21, 2012 on the same day he proposed a $300 million capital spending plan, which included $100 million for education.

ABC News Channel 2 in Nashville reported about the mayor’s visit and noted the band at Oliver currently practices in cramped spaces and the chorus sings in a portable classroom. The story added that Dean’s plan would add $3.6 million for Oliver Middle School additions and improvements.

Waters said that the process of designating the school as a performing arts design center is moving forward. The mayor and Metro school board supports it and she has parental support with more than 500 petition signatures.  She reports that the new facilities are being funded and architectural plans are being drawn up for new facilities, but there are a lot of official processes that still have to be realized.

The future curriculum at Oliver Middle School is currently on the drawing board and being reworked to allow each student to have two art classes simultaneously.  The school is about two years away from realizing the full goal, she said.

A total of 69 students performed in the intermediate band during the fall concert. Waters said each child in this second-year group is learning how to play a musical instrument, and all of them are benefiting from important life lessons.

“We want them to be music lovers their entire life,” Waters said.  “It’s about responsibility, teamwork, things that the fortune 500 companies are looking for in future employees – how to work together, how to goal set, how to work hard, how to problem solve.  We’re teaching all of those things.  Music is the venue by which we achieve that.”

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