KENMORE, N.Y. — We are celebrating Western New York and the difference music education is making in the lives of students. Four high school bands joined forces Monday night for a special concert. While performing together is a unique experience, the students are realizing that what they learn in band goes beyond the classroom and the concert stage.
"Not only am I getting used to playing with different people, this sets me up for a college experience," said high school senior Alana Massey.
"You learn different techniques that you're going to use for the rest of your life," said high school senior Destinee Minier.
Seniors Destinee Minier and Alana Massey go to different Buffalo high schools, but both play the flute, and both are going to study music in college. They are just two of the 200 students performing for the first time Monday night after less than a day of rehearsing together.
The Kenmore East Invitational Concert is a collaboration with Music Is Art to promote the importance of music education.
"When I'm stressed with school and work and everything else, I'm like okay let me practice, like for me practicing isn't stressful. Something like a stress reliever, and I'm confident in my playing so it's just like a boost, a little moment of happiness for me," said Massey.
"It really brings humanity and empathy to everyone and for that reason, it is every bit as important as math and science and it's what makes us human," said guest conductor Jeff Gershman.
Gershman, from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio met the Kenmore East band director about five years ago and works with high school students across the country.
"It makes them better academically, it helps their memory," says Gershman. "But those are just kind of facets to the bigger thing which is it allows them such a unique opportunity to create art and express themselves in a community and in such a divisive world today, to actually come together and learn empathy, and patience, and to do it in a setting where you get to make art with other people, there's just not very much out there like that."
There was also a big push for students to apply for music scholarships at the concert. A representative from a company promoting fine arts scholarships told 2 On Your Side that a lot of that money goes unclaimed every year.