Massachusetts band students ordered to ‘fake play’ music, not allowed to blow into instruments

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BOSTON, MA – Band students in a Massachusetts school district banned children from blowing into their instruments, citing the spread of new Covid-19 variant.

Grade school students in the Wilmington, Massachusetts, school system reportedly are requiring students to silently finger their instruments without mouthpieces to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

They have been prohibited from blowing into woodwind or brass instruments, including trumpets, clarinets, flutes, and trombones, according to a district email.

The email was published by Bring Kids Back MA, a parent group that has advocated for in-person classes during the pandemic.

The email sent to parents by Anita DiLullo, who serves as the elementary school band director for the district, on Sunday, January 2, announced students are being ordered to simulate playing their instruments during classroom instruction.

Bring Kids Back MA tweeted about the prohibition:

“Not to be outdone by prior insanity, we bring you (Wilmington Public Schools).

“In Wilmington, MA students are now ‘NOT permitted to play/blow into their instruments.’  Yep. They’re making students ‘fake play’ their woodwind instruments because it will ‘lead to keeping our students safe.’”

The organization attached what it claims is the text of an email sent to students by the Wilmington School District administration. The email reads in part:

“During lessons, students will assemble their instruments (without mouthpiece) and move their fingers through the exercises and songs, as well as participate in music and rhythm and reading lessons while being fully masked for the entire lesson.

“Students are expected to practice their instruments at home and continue to attend band lessons during this time. Percussion (drums) students will continue to have their lessons as usual since those instruments do not involve blowing aerosols into the classroom.”

Massachusetts band students ordered to ‘fake play’ music, not allowed to blow into instruments

The school has issued these restrictions limiting student skill development in the performing arts, yet requires students to continue attending band lessons.

On June 29, 2021, the University of Bristol published findings of a study showing that playing woodwind instruments is no more likely to spread the COVID-19 virus than speaking and breathing:

“Aerosol generated by playing woodwind and brass instruments is less than that produced when vocalizing (speaking and singing) and is no different than a person breathing, new research has found.

The findings could be crucial to developing a roadmap for lifting COVID-19 restrictions in the performing arts, which have been significantly restricted since the start of the pandemic.”

The research project, known as PERFORM (ParticulatE Respiratory Matter to InForm Guidance for the Safe Distancing of PerfOrmeRs in a COVID-19 PandeMic), was supported by Public Health England, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS), and UKRI and was conducted by a collaborative team from Imperial College London, University of Bristol, Wexham Park Hospital, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust and Royal Brompton Hospital.

Jonathan Reid, Director of Bristol Aerosol Research Centre and Professor of Physical Chemistry in the School of Chemistry at the University of Bristol, said:

“This study confirms that the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 are likely elevated during vocalization at loud volume in poorly ventilated spaces. By comparison, playing wind instruments, like breathing, generates less particles that could carry the virus than speaking or singing.”

Dr Bryan Bzdek, Lecturer in the School of Chemistry at the University of Bristol and corresponding author on the paper, added:

“Our study found playing woodwind and brass instruments generates less aerosol than vocalization, which could have important policy implications in a roadmap to lifting COVID-19 restrictions, as many performing arts activities have been, and continue to be, severely restricted.”

Despite these scientific studies, Wilmington Public Schools administration took the word of the school’s Interim Coordinator of Health Services, Becky Brown:

“We are making this decision after considering the reportedly high transmission rate of the Omicron variant and the lower rate of vaccination levels among our 4th and 5th grade students as compared to older students who have had a longer amount of time to receive their vaccination.

“After consultation with Beck Brown, our Interim Coordinator of Health Services, we have determined that while not optimal, for music education, these steps will lead to keeping our students safer right now.”

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Elementary school bans singing of Jingle Bells, says it has ‘the potential to be controversial or offensive’

December 25, 2021

 

The following contains editorial content which is the opinion of the author. 

ROCHESTER, NY- Ever hear the saying, “Liberalism is a mental disorder?” Welcome to Council Rock Primary School in Rochester, New York.

Just when you think you’ve heard it all comes a story that the school removed the song “Jingle Bells” from a winter concert program because apparently some brain-dead people are offended by the song.

The principal of the school, Matt Tappon told parents in an email that winter classic was being replaced with other songs that don’t have “the potential to be controversial or offensive,” the Rochester Beacon reported.

Jingle Bells? Offensive? You can’t make it up.

It is one of the most popular secular holiday songs ever written, one of the most performed and well-known songs not only in the United States but around the globe.

It was actually the first song broadcast from space, with Gemini 6 astronauts playing the song just before Christmas in 1965. The song has been sung at the White House, most recently in 2016 at the National Christmas Tree lighting.

But apparently, it can no longer be sung at Council Rock.

Why you may ask?

The decision to remove the song was partially based on a 2017 article written by a college professor, Kyna Hamill, director of Boston University’s Core Curriculum. Hamill wrote that allegedly the first performance of the song was at a Boston minstrel show in 1857…yes, you read that correctly…1857.

Hamill wrote over 12,000 words including appendices and footnotes on the song. At that time, minstrel shows were a popular form of entertainment, the Beacon wrote, which were typically performed by white actors in blackface.

However to her credit, Hamill was rather surprised that Council Rock removed the song in part due to her research. She responded in an email:

I am actually quite shocked the school would remove the song from the repertoire…I, in no way, recommended that it stopped being sung by children.”

Continuing, Hamill wrote:

My article tried to tell the story of the first performance of the song, I do not connect this to the popular Christmas tradition of singing the song now.

The very fact of (Jingle Bells’) popularity has to do (with) the very catch melody of the song, and not to be only understood in terms of its origins in the minstrel tradition…I would say it should very much be sung and enjoyed, and perhaps discussed.

Hamill noted that this was the first time she had heard of a school canceling the song from the repertoire of a winter concert, and noted that she has spoken to media as well as individuals on both national and international basis.

The cancellation of the song came as a great surprise to her.

The Beacon said they spoke to Council Rock staff after speaking with the Hamill and shared her response.

Allison Rioux, Brighton Central School District Superintendent for curriculum and instruction then gave a different, albeit just as absurd reason for removing Jingle Bells from the school’s performance, and it’s a doozy.

It is suggested by some that collars placed on slaves were outfitted with bells to send an alert that they were running away, and somehow in someone’s wildest imagination, that is connected to the origins of the song Jingle Bells.

She said that while they “are not taking a stance to whether that is true or not, we do feel strongly that this line of thinking is not in agreement with our district beliefs to value all cultures and experiences of our students.”

“For this reason,” Rioux said, “along with the idea that there are hundreds of other five note songs, we made the decision not to teach the song directly to all students.”

This is of course ridiculous. The only ones that would be triggered by such a song are people who are looking to get triggered. But this is the world we live in.

The Beacon said a web search found that sleighbells on horses…such as addressed in Jingle Bells—go back to Roman times. In fact, Hamill’s research paper didn’t equate sleighbells with slave bells. When Hamill was asked about this she responded:

The use of bells on enslaved peoples may be true, but there is no connection to the song that I have discovered in my research. Perhaps finding a well-referenced source for this claim might be in order if that is what (school officials) want to determine as the cause for not singing it.

Look, as the Rochester Beacon notes, the removal of a single song from a winter concert program in an elementary school isn’t the end of the world.

God knows we have enough major problems to worry about, such as an out-of-control government, skyrocketing inflation, and war drums beating around the world.

However the smaller picture is someone feels a song which has been sung by school children for generations, which talks about a sleighride through fields of snow, children laughing, their spirits rising, removing that from an elementary school concert program, especially with the reasons given by district staff, smacks of politically correct BS.

And that is a problem.

This is of course just another in what is becoming an issue with so-called “diversity, equity and inclusion” programs, otherwise known in many circles as critical race theory.

And, as the Beacon notes, the school district earlier this year spoke about a long-term effort to implement “anti-racist, anti-bias” initiatives. Those initiatives included assessing curriculum and teaching “through a lens of being inclusive and culturally responsive.”

As part of that, the district hired so-called “diversity consultants,” which have suggested teachers move to more gender neutral terms from clearly “offensive” terminology such as boys and girls, toward fellow students “learners,” “friends,” “thinkers,” or “Council Rock Citizens.”

This folks, is called indoctrination.

That same update had a Council Rock music teacher noting some songs taught in schools had a “questionable past,” and were being replaced by songs with “more contemporary and relative content.” Would love to know what those songs are.

Ironically, the composer of Jingle Bells, James L. Pierpont, was the son of an ardent abolitionist. So to insinuate there is some type of racist roots behind the song is ridiculous. At the time he wrote Jingle Bells, so-called sleigh songs were very popular, according to Hamill. She wrote:

As a synonym for youth (not unlike fast cars in the twentieth century), the mania for sleigh riding made its way into popular literary, theatrical, and visual culture.” That apparently included the minstrel stage.

The Beacon reported that the music teachers in Council Rock who made the initial decision to remove Jingle Bells from the school’s musical repertoire have since retired, and neither Rioux nor Tappon would speak directly to the outlet about the decision.

As we noted, it would be interesting to know what “contemporary and relevant” songs replaced Jingle Bells, a question also posed by the Beacon reporter.

Jingle Bells, although it isn’t specifically a Christmas song, has been identified with the holiday for years. The fact that it may or may not have been performed over a century-and-a-half ago at minstrel shows is quite honestly irrelevant.

The popular first verse of the song, which is sung today, and is well-known to children throughout the country has absolutely none…zero…zilch…racist connotations. The writer of the song certainly gave no appearances of being a racist ideologue.

Jingle Bells, racist? Please.

  

 

 

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