Fishers Island Music Students Earn National and Regional Honors

by Jane Ahrens

The 2018-2019 school year has been a successful year for the performing ensembles, music learning community, and individual students of the Fishers Island School Music Program. The music students at Fishers Island continue to excel and represent the island community on the national and regional stage.

This year the Fishers Island School has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. This is the eighth consecutive year that the school has received this national honor.

Now in its 20th year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. To qualify for the Best Communities designation, Fishers Island School answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music programs.

This award recognizes that Fishers Island School is leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The legislation guides implementation in the states and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) which was often criticized for an overemphasis on testing-while leaving behind subjects such as music. ESSA recommends music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education for all children.

In May the vocal and instrumental performance ensembles at Fishers Island School participated in regional competitions that took place in Holyoke, MA.

The vocal ensemble performed Moondance by Van Morrison as their warmup piece. For the competition, the ensemble performed Lux Aeterna composed by Frank Ticheli and Do You Hear the People Sing? By Claude-Michele Shonberg. The Fishers Island Choir was awarded first place in their classification.

The instrumental ensemble performed Suite for Band by Jeremy Martin as their warmup composition and Our Kingsland Spring by Samuel Hazo followed by Soul Bassa Nova by Quincy Jones as their competition pieces. The band earned a second-place finish in their class. In addition to the performance award, Fishers Island School was awarded the Esprit de Corps award. This honor is awarded to the school that showed the highest levels of respect, professionalism, and courtesy at the performance venues.

Fishers Island’s Chorus ~ Photo Credit: Jane T. Ahrens

The music students at Fishers Island also compete regionally for individual honors. This year we had six students who were selected to represent Fishers Island at the Connecticut Music Educator’s Eastern Region Festival. Schools from east of the Connecticut River participate in these CMEA auditions. Students who are selected by this audition participate in honor ensembles. The high school students who were selected by audition were: vocalists Meg Allen; Alto, Fred Toldo, Bass, and instrumentalist Lili Kane; Bassoon. Middle school students selected were: Vocalists Christina Toldo; Soprano, Olivia Planeta; Soprano and instrumentalist Maddie Hatfield; violin.

The music students put in many hours of rehearsal and individual practice in order to achieve these honors. The students remain grateful to the Fishers Island Community and School for their continued support of the performing arts here on Fishers Island.

2018-2019 Fishers Island School Music Department Statistics

  • 35 of 36 Seventh-Twelfth grade students participate in band and chorus – 97% Participation rate
  • 100% Seventh-Twelfth grade students took at least one music course this year
  • 30 of 36 Seventh-Twelfth grade students participate in Band – 83% participation
  • 26 of 36 Seventh-Twelfth grade students participate in Chorus – 72% participation
  • 11 Students auditioned for Eastern Region Band, Chorus, and Orchestra – 31% of the Seventh-Twelfth grade student population
  • 6 students accepted for Eastern Region Band, Chorus, and Orchestra – 17% of the Seventh-Twelfth grade student population

Editor’s Note: Fishers Island School and the Island community are very lucky to have Mr. Chris Dollar as the School’s (only) music teacher. All of the students’ accomplishments are in great part to his teaching, talents, mentoring and love and enthusiasm for his subject.

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay . Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

A Fishers Island Community Center Program and the accompanying Fog Horn eNewsletter serve as the communications resource for the Fishers Island community. The content – news, calendar, links and photos, milestones, ads, and more create a clear image of Fishers to those on and off the island.

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