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Musical Notes

More than ever, it remains essential that students experience joy in their daily lives. For many, this comes from artistic pursuits. Band, orchestra, chorus (BOC), and music students at Daniel Wright have continued to receive instruction in ensemble musicianship, vocal and instrumental technique, composing, and music's role in history and culture. Our students engage in lessons and rehearsals tailored to their learning model, continuing to connect socially with friends who love making music and maintaining their progress toward the mastery of performing standards. Many rehearsals occur over Zoom, allowing students to sing and play instruments at home. Since students are muted during most large-group instruction, they submit individual assignments to their teachers, allowing them to receive personalized feedback structured to their development as musicians.

The Illinois Music Educators Association (ILMEA) sponsors a festival for outstanding junior high musicians each school year. This year, we were proud to have 16 musicians participate in the District 7 ILMEA Festival. The selected students participated in various master classes and clinics led by professional musicians. In December, over 50 BOC students recorded entries for Solo and Ensemble Contest, sponsored by the Illinois Grade School Music Association (IGSMA). With generous sponsorship from the District 103 Music Boosters, the Daniel Wright Choirs have recorded several virtual choir performances, broadcasting a virtual Veterans Day concert at the November Board of Education meeting and releasing a medley of songs from the musical Hamilton and a holiday concert in December. This year's musical, "Road Trip," is a student-written virtual production that incorporates songs from many different Broadway shows and popular genres. These performing experiences have proven motivating for our students and have sustained their excitement and passion for music during periods of remote and hybrid learning.

Mindful that one need not be a performer to be a musician, in partnership with the Curriculum & Instruction department, the music faculty has developed a new curriculum through MusicFirst, a music-specific learning management system. Within MusicFirst, students create compositions in Soundtrap, a collaborative digital audio workstation (think GarageBand meets Google Docs) and Flat, a collaborative notation software. Students have used Soundtrap to record individually and to perform chamber ensembles with their peers. Student interest has even led the initiative to offer a new After-School Activity, Digital Audio Production, and a second round of entries in the IGSMA Solo and Ensemble Contest.

Research surrounding the safety of ensemble music-making during the pandemic continues to emerge. We are committed to following the most current public health guidelines and expert recommendations to ensure our music-making takes on a safe format with many layers of mitigation strategies, including enhanced physical distancing, outdoor rehearsals, and music-specific personal protective equipment. We are dedicated to providing opportunities for students to discover their natural talents as performers and people and to learn about musical expression, sharing meaningful messages, and connecting with our listeners, each other, and ourselves.

If you have any questions about the Daniel Wright music program or would like information about how to get involved, please contact Band Director Rob Yaple (, Orchestra Director Kelsey Buffa (, or Choral Director Matthew Clark ( We are proud to be part of a school and music community where every member is valued and every voice is heard.