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Celebrating Arts in Education Week with classical music

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s famous classical composition, “Eine kleine Nachtmusik,” is a pretty recognizable one – and Sangaree Middle’s eighth grade band students are currently learning it in class.

Their timing could not be better; September happens to be Classical Music Month – be sure to check out the video above of students practicing Mozart’s piece.

The week of Sept. 11-17 also happens to be National Arts in Education Week, a time to celebrate arts education in schools and the tremendous impact it has on students.

Sangaree Middle’s band students work under the guidance of Brian Trauger, who is in his 10th year serving as the director of bands at the school. Trauger knows from experience that the arts give students a creative outlet and an opportunity for self-expression during the school day.

“In terms of our program, it gives them the opportunity to work with peers that they might not otherwise get to be in class with,” he said. “It helps reinforce their core content areas in terms of creativity, critical thinking skills…(and) analyzing their own performance.”

Trauger said his students typically spend the beginning of the school year getting back into the swing of things and “learning how to be musical again”, but things are going to start picking up as the semester progresses.

“So far we’re off to a good start,” Trauger said.

Despite hardships from the pandemic, band students worked hard last school year – and it showed. The band received an SCBDA Outstanding Performance Award as well as a Superior with Distinction rating at the SCBDA Concert Band Assessment. It also received a Superior rating at its BCSD Jazz Band Assessment. Sangaree Middle had one student qualify for All-State Band, 13 qualify for the SCBDA Region 5 Honor Band, 20 qualify for the district’s All-County Junior Bands, 23 qualify for the district’s All-County Beginner Band and five qualify for All-County Honor Jazz Band. The school also received 35 Superior ratings at SCBDA Solo and Ensemble.

This year, seventh and eighth grade band students can sign up for a jazz band club where they can play some more popular pieces. In addition to Trauger’s guidance, students are working with student teacher Jacob Sturdivant, who is enrolled at Charleston Southern University and a former student of Trauger's. Retired Charleston County School District teacher Richard Moon also stops by the class from time to time to offer additional support.

The students will eventually work on pieces for a winter concert toward the end of the semester. In the meantime, they are getting ready for “eighth grade nights” with Cane Bay High and Stratford High, which allows the students the opportunity to play with the high schoolers.

Trauger said he is feeling pretty good about this school year.

“I feel optimistic that we’re going to be as successful, or even more so, than we were last year,” he said.