Sun Prairie Area School District receives national recognition for music education advocacy

The Sun Prairie Area School District has received the Advocacy in Action Award for Outstanding Recruitment and Retention from Music for All, Inc. for its outstanding commitment to music education advocacy.

The Advocacy in Action Award is presented to music programs, schools, and communities across the United States that demonstrate outstanding achievement in local efforts to provide access to music education for all students.

To qualify for the Advocacy in Action Award Designation, the Sun Prairie Band Department submitted a detailed description of its music program and project, “I’m In The Band”. Submissions were reviewed by a national panel of educators, administrators, and community and business leaders.

Research continuously indicates student engagement in sequential music learning improves brain-function while developing the life skills of empathy, self-confidence, and collaboration. Additionally, students of the arts demonstrate higher attendance, graduation rates, and academic achievement compared to their non-arts peers.

The Sun Prairie Area School District’s submission will be part of the Music for All Advocacy in Action website (advocacy.musicforall.org), a clearinghouse of practical advocacy examples that can be adapted and replicated by programs nationwide.

Music has been prominent in the Sun Prairie community since 1876 when the Sun Prairie Brass Band Association was first formed by Dr. Charles Crosse. The SPBBA supported the Sun Prairie Cornet Band which played at many community events and holiday functions throughout its’ existence. In 1907 music first became a part of the Sun Prairie public school curriculum and the first public school band was created in 1925.

Today there are nearly 800 students enrolled in Sun Prairie School District Bands. The program consists of eighteen concert bands, nine jazz ensembles, numerous smaller chamber ensembles as well as the award winning Sound of Sun Prairie Marching Band.

Students in the Sun Prairie Band program receive a weekly lesson from a district band staff member. In addition, a number of students receive additional, instrument specific, private instruction from one of a number of talented musicians from our area. Many of the band students are selected to regional and statewide honor bands.

The concert band program at all levels has worked with composers and guest artists such as Sam Hazo, Brian Balmages, John Mackey, Craig Kirchoff, Alex Shapiro, Charles Rochester Young, Jim Bonney, Michael Markowski, Cheryl Floyd, and many more. Over twenty concert band works have been commissioned by one of the bands in the Sun Prairie Band Program.

The Sun Prairie High School Wind Ensemble has been invited to perform at both the Wisconsin WMEA and WNBA convention, and regional MENC conventions in Minneapolis and Cincinnati. The Wind Ensemble has also earned top honors at the Dixie Classic National Adjudicators Festival in St. Louis, at the Branson Jubilee National Concert Band Festival in Branson, Missouri and Carnegie Hall and will soon perform in the Percy Grainger Wind Band Festival in Orchestra Hall at the Symphony Center in Chicago.

The Jazz Ensemble I has performed at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic with Wynton Marsalis and the WMEA convention with Clark Terry. The jazz ensemble has been a 13 time national finalist in the “Essentially Ellington” festival, placing 3rd twice.

The Sound of Sun Prairie is a unique and wonderful blend of students, parents and staff. This summer the Sound of Sun Prairie celebrates it’s 47th year of serving youth through music. The band has been awarded many honors over the years, including a World Associa on of Show Marching Bands World Championship and 15 Mid-American Competing Band Directors Association Open Class Championships. While the band has experienced competitive success, the primary focus of the “Sound” is helping students grow through our belief in family, professionalism, leadership, passion, and compassion.

The Band Department’s Mission Statement is “Move beyond the notes to cultivate a lifelong passion and drive for creativity, curiosity, and community through a vision of students as accomplished learners and evolving musicians in pursuit of artistry.”

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