19 Apr CCSD music teachers celebrate latest achievement

It came as no surprise to Wayne N. Tanaka Elementary School Music Specialist Eydie Reid that the Clark County School District (CCSD) was once again named one of the “Best Communities for Music Education” by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation. In fact, CCSD has earned this designation 18 years in a row. Reid said, “There are so many great things going on at every level in CCSD, from elementary through high school.”

Reid is a 1989 Western High School graduate who has been with CCSD for 23 years. Her husband, Lorne Reid, is the band director at Victoria Fertitta Middle School. About 1,000 students are in her classroom every week, learning to sing, harmonize, play instruments and do folk dances. Similar activities take place every day in all CCSD elementary schools.

CCSD middle schools also are no stranger to music education. Elizabeth Reineke is one of two band directors at Dr. William (Bob) H. Bailey Middle School. She said the NAMM award not only shows the excellence of the district’s music teachers but also reflects the support of administrators, parents and students. Bailey has more than 500 students in band, plus two mariachi teachers and an orchestra teacher.

Green Valley High School (GVHS) is another outstanding example when it comes to music programs. Choral Music Director Kim Ritzer, a 1984 Bonanza High School graduate, can boast that her choir has performed twice with the Rolling Stones. More recently, the choir played at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The GVHS band, orchestra and jazz band also have received numerous accolades. Ritzer said, “Our music program has so many people who are committed to teaching music to our students. We owe our success to the talents of our students as well as the support of parents, administrators, the Board of School Trustees and the community.”

A 27-year CCSD veteran, Ritzer noted, “The fact that every child in elementary school is required to learn music from a certified music teacher is a huge thing. It lights a fire under those students as they continue their education and move on to middle and high school.”

Studies have shown a link between music education and better academic performance. According to Ritzer, “Students come to school more often because they enjoy music. They have to keep their grades up in order to participate, so it pushes them to be better people and better students.”

Reineke agreed. “The arts requires kids to think in a different way. If you can think as a musician, you are required to use your whole brain, and this will transfer to other places.” This was echoed by Reid. “Rhythms are directly related to math. We talk about fractions. And when students learn song lyrics, they are building their vocabularies. And when we teach a folk dance, there is always history behind it, so that’s another area of learning inherent in music.”

Reineke offered a view of her role that is likely shared by most of her colleagues. “Through music, students are learning life skills that they haven’t learned anywhere else. I am not simply a teacher of music. I am a teacher of life and music is my tool.”

The NAMM award signifies that CCSD joins a select group of school districts nationwide recognized for outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who have made music education part of the curriculum.

For more information about the NAMM awards, click here. For a sampling of CCSD’s musical talent, click here.