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Boosters seek return of in-person music instruction

FORESTVILLE — The state of the music program at Forestville Central School was discussed during a recent meeting of the school board.

While Forestville Music Booster co-president Karen Kaminski noted that the organization is pleased with the energy that has been put into school safety for both staff and students this year, there are also regulations put in place that have changed during the course of the year.

“At the beginning of the year, there were certain rules put in place,” Kaminski said, “and I admire that, but obviously things have changed in regards to things like sports, and it seems reasonable that the music program could also adapt to have in-person instruction.”

The music program is extremely important to Kaminski, who has been invested in the Forestville music program in one way or another since she started playing clarinet herself in 1978.

“It’s extremely important to me,” Kaminski said. “I know the current students and staff, and I know how much music means to them.”

In Chautauqua County, Forestville and Pine Valley are the only two schools who have not had any in-person music instruction or performances this school year, as other schools have been able to adapt to the regulations put in place.

“I consider Forestville to be a leader when it comes to preventing infection spread,” Kaminski said, “and yet we have no in-person music.”

Some of the issues other schools have encountered when trying to bring back in-person music instruction involve spacing, as the distancing guidelines for musical instruments is 12 feet. Forestville has access to both an auditorium and a band room that Kaminski notes should be able to provide spacing for students to at least be able to rehearse in small groups.

“If space is an issue, there are scenarios where students could play together safely in smaller groups,” Kaminski said. “The band room is adequately ventilated and sized to give groups the space.”

Though students involved in the Forestville music program have been able to practice remotely with their instructor, Jay Hagen, Kaminski expressed that the joy in playing music doesn’t come from playing alone.

“What our students have been doing this year is practicing,” Kaminski said. “They’ve been playing as individuals. When you’re a musician, the joy of being a musician is playing with others. That’s when true music gets made.”

Kaminski said her son will graduate from Forestville High School this year, and while she would love for him specifically to play in a group this year, she is speaking on behalf of all the musicians who have not been able to make music this year.

“You don’t make music with instruments, you make music with emotions,” Kaminski said. “Instruments just allow you to get your point across. I feel so strongly that there are opportunities to allow our students to play.”

Although Kaminski was speaking her own ideas, and not the ideas of Hagen, she said her message is supported by a group of many parents who wish to see in-person music made at Forestville Central School soon.

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