For the love of music
The East Grand School District’s (EGSD) 2016-2017 academic school year will begin on Monday August 29.
As summer moves towards fall and the beginning of classes teachers are beginning to review their plans for the coming year. Brad Pregeant heads up the music program for the East Grand Middle School (EGMS) and Middle Park High School (MPHS), teaching band and choir for all students from sixth grade through twelfth grade. Assisting Pregeant closely is Music Tutor Lynnea Godfriaux. The pair continues to develop their vision for the district’s music department.
“Our focus has been to grow the music departments at both schools and inspire kids,” Pregeant stated. “We have been arranging music that the students choose and that they enjoy, as part of our larger effort to encourage them to join and continue in band.”
For the coming school year Pregeant and Godfriaux are preparing for some of the largest bands and choirs they have yet overseen.
“Our numbers are up everywhere,” Pregeant said. “It looks like well over 100 band students at the middle school; well over 100 choir students at the middle school and right around 30 for high school choir. If all the eighth graders sign up for band in ninth grade we will have around 40. Four years ago we had seven.”
Retaining student musicians as they transition from junior high to high school can be a challenge for Pregeant. But serving as director of both the middle school and high school band programs offers advantages.
“The transition to high school is where we lose a lot of kids,” Pregeant said. “Having the kids from sixth-grade all the way through seems to make a difference. It is like I am my own feeder.”
As Pregeant looks to the coming school year he is thankful for a grant the music department received from the East Grand Education Foundation, totaling $2,000. The funds were earmarked for the EGMS music program and went directly to instrument maintenance and repair. The grant supplemented funds allocated to the music program from the EGSD.
The Blue Star Foundation and its founder John Catt have also been a source of support for the local music programs. Blue Star Foundation has donated several instruments to students. “We are grateful to the East Grand Education Foundation, John Catt and all the others who have made donations. This is all helping our vision to build the music program and inspire students for generations to come.”
The realities of the department’s budget can be, “a challenge” Pregeant said. Generally several thousand dollars must cover instrument purchases and repairs as well as buying new music. The program spends a significant portion of the annual budget on hotel rooms for students participating in performances outside Grand County.
The affable Music Director highlighted his commitment to take students on multiple field trips throughout the year, typically for band performances at various events such as the state music festival. Pregeant also highlighted the “Combined Band Project” as a centerpiece for many students. The Combined Band Project brings students from East Grand, West Grand, SoRoCo, and the Hayden School Districts together into a single ensemble band totaling close to 100 students.
“The best part of my job is seeing the growth,” said Pregeant. “With music you get to experience it in real time. You get to a concert and say, ‘six months ago I would never have dreamed that this would happen, look how far you have come.”
Pregeant began teaching in East Grand in 2008 and spent several years working as a half-time Music Director and half-time Special Education Paraprofessional. He began heading the EGMS music program three-years ago. At the same time Pregeant enlisted the help of Lynnea Godfriaux as a music tutor to help students develop their talents.
Both Pregeant and Godfriaux have college training in music, Pregeant’s degree is in Piano Performance; and both have experience in worldwide musical performance.
“I knew that teaching sixth through twelfth music would be an exciting journey,” Pregeant stated. “But I had no idea how exciting. The students are inspiring, and it’s been fantastic to help them grow through their connection with music.”
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