Dale Wolford

Saxophonist

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Save Union City Music!

Below is a letter I just sent to the New Haven Unified School board concerning their cuts of the amazing music programs in Union City. We may be losing something special--contact their school board if you can help before May 1st. You can find their emails here:

http://www.nhusd.k12.ca.us/node/259

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To the New Haven School Board,

I am writing to ask that you find a way to keep one of the finest music programs in the country from disappearing into the air. I have had a personal relationship with the music program in New Haven Unified since 1986 when I taught at New Haven Middle School (now Cesar Chavez) as the band director until 1992. I was there when the new band rooms were built at all three middle schools, building the NHMS program to over 350 band students. My choral colleague at New Haven Middle, Sylvia Cauter, had over 400 students in her program. Out of a student population of 1200, we had 750 students in the music program. We were both very proud of our students and the support we got from the community and district. I left to teach at the university level, but have continued my relationship over the last 26 years, teaching private saxophone lessons to students from Cesar Chavez, Alvarado Middle and James Logan, judging district wide solo/ensemble and band festivals, and playing as a soloist with the Logan bands. I have also worked as a university supervisor observing student teachers for CSU-East Bay assigned to master teachers in New Haven Unified, including the pink-slipped, Rina Monemy, now a band director at Alvarado Middle.

Currently I am a professor of music education at San José State University. Over the years I’ve watched as the Union City program has grown and improved to a level of performance that few K-12 music programs in the country can match. I constantly use it as a model for my music education majors of what true “excellence” should be as they prepare for their careers. I also speak with them about how long it takes to build such a strong music program. The necessary ingredients must include a strong elementary general music curriculum, developmental skills at the middle school level for band, orchestra and choir, continuing with high school offerings that take students to the next level. New Haven Unified has had all these ingredients. If you take away the elementary and middle school programs, the music program at James Logan will wither away in a few short years. All of the wonderful teachers who currently teach and mentor these amazingly talented students will go elsewhere and Union City will probably never be able to rebuild this remarkable program again.

You have a true “gem” in your music programs. I plead with you to find a way maintain them through these difficult times, because to lose them now means not only will Union City lose a treasure, but future students in New Haven Unified will miss the opportunity to be part of something incredibly special which has allowed them to achieve a level of excellence that will carry throughout their lives. To quote the great Hall of Fame football coach, Vince Lombardi,

"The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor."

I know from the countless James Logan, Alvarado Middle and Cesar Chavez students I’ve worked with over the years that the experience of being part of the excellent New Haven Unified music programs taught them an understanding of the study and hard work required to achieve excellence. This experience in your music programs will transfer into their everyday lives as they become adults and begin careers.

Please don’t take this away from your future students!

Most Sincerely,

Dale Wolford
School of Music & Dance
San Jose State University
1 Washington Square
San Jose, CA  95192-0095