Vernon Music Department: Academic achievement through fine arts


Music teaches discipline and creativity, skills that can assist students with academic success. The Music Department at Vernon Middle School is giving rise to student ingenuity and proficiency through music education.

The Vernon Music Department consists of band, choir, and orchestra classes offered to students from sixth to eighth grade.

“The kids are amazing,” Vernon Orchestra Director Yram Leal said. “We have daily warm-ups and rehearsals after school to make sure that I reach every single student. It’s a lot of work, but it is work that is well worth it. It makes me happy to see that fine arts and music is what is helping these kids become successful.”

Vernon is helping develop great musicians by instilling the love for music in all of their students.

“When I play the flute, I feel like I am in my own little world and I love that feeling,” eighth-grader Mia Quintanilla said. “Band changes your life. You learn a lot and you make great friends that are like a family. If there is ever a problem there is always people there to help you.”

Students are able to develop and expand their creativity and other skills in a close-knit community.

“Music really works on the creative part of your brain so a lot of times our kids think outside of the box,” Vernon Band Director Keith DiSantis said. “So when it comes to testing and academics, they are very successful. Some of our musicians are among the most accomplished students in the school.”

By perfecting their technique on a brass, woodwind, string, percussion or vocal instrument, students are developing mental and sensory skills to help them become better musicians and better learners in other classes. And for eight-grader Oscar Dominguez music has even made him more confident when learning new information.

“Learning how to play the cello has taught me a great deal of patience,” Dominguez said. “The way I figure out how to play a piece of music is by listening to what the teacher is saying, studying the music, and then by doing it. I apply those same skills to every class.”

Band, choir, and orchestra students learn the importance of applying themselves not only in music class but in the academic world too. They are aware that in order to keep participating in music, their grades must remain a top priority.

“I tell them that their grades in school are like our paycheck as adults,” DiSantis said. “If you are getting real good grades, it’s like receiving a good paycheck as an adult and being able to get things you want.”

“You just have to focus on the teacher, learn, and get good grades. If you get good grades, you succeed,” eighth-grader Nathan De Leon said.

From the moment sixth graders enter their first music class to their performance as seventh and eighth-grade students at concerts and competitions, music teachers observe the development of young students into great musicians and scholars.

“The discipline, the practicing at home, the wanting to get it better, and that desire to just want to do your best is what makes a great musician,” DiSantis said. “When they start off, if we teach them one note, they are excited. They will go home and play that note forever. But as they learn music and they learn songs when they get older, they see what the high school band kids do. So by eighth grade, they are usually pretty excited about what is going to happen in the future.”

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