Salvatore A. Randazzo, Director of Fine Arts
The study of the arts is a vital part of a child's well-rounded education and a necessity in any well-structured, comprehensive educational program. It is the goal of our Half Hollow Hills art and music staff to create a learning environment and atmosphere where the creative spirit not only grows, but flourishes. Inherent to this goal is the awareness, development and implementation of the Arts to all students who desire it. Consequently, we strive to maintain a professional learning community that fully supports the Arts in an endeavor to give our students a well-rounded, diverse education, rich in all areas of learning. An education in absence of the Arts cannot endure!
Music instruction in Half Hollow Hills has been a chief resource for expanding students' experiences beyond their immediate surroundings. Instruction in the arts encourages students to take pleasure in performing and creating, regardless of their talent or previous experiences. Our music students learn about and utilize tools and resources, and learn to observe and appreciate musical performances while applying critical standards to understand how the arts reflect and broaden the history and cultures of the world. The State Education Department reports that our understanding of the way people learn is changing. In "Frames of Mind", author Howard Gardner reminds us that schooling has not fully tapped all of the intelligences that children possess. According to Gardner, schools focus primarily on the logical/sequential, mathematical and interpersonal intelligences, while the intelligences that Gardner labels visual/spatial, musical, kinesthetic, and intrapersonal are less well represented. Studies show that these intelligences, the ones most directly addressed in arts education programs, are important not only for their own sake, but as vehicles for learning in every area of study.
Half Hollow Hills is proud to have the distinction of being recognized by the NAMM Foundation as being one of the "Best Communities in the Nation for Music Education" in 2008, 2011 and 2012. The Music Department in Half Hollow Hills impacts every student in grades K-8 and opportunities are provided at every grade level, K-12, to experience, perform and create music. Once students enter high school, approximately 25 percent elect to continue in a performing ensemble. Throughout the district, every musical opportunity students encounter enables them to satisfy the need for a rewarding, educational experience in a positive social setting.
In the elementary schools, each child has a weekly classroom music lesson, and fourth and fifth graders are encouraged to join the school's band, chorus or orchestra. These ensembles rehearse twice a week, either before or after school. A pullout program provides instrumental music lessons for band and orchestra on a weekly basis.
At the middle schools, classroom music instruction is provided for all students not participating in a performance ensemble. Each middle school has a music lab that integrates music technology into the General Music curriculum in a hands-on approach to performing and composing. Middle school performing ensembles include orchestras, concert bands and choirs. All participating students receive weekly music lessons as part of the curriculum, facilitated through a pullout-rotating schedule. Students are also encouraged to participate in the annual school musical and the jazz band as an extracurricular program.
Each high school has a ninth grade band, tenth-twelfth grade band, ninth-tenth grade string orchestra, eleventh-twelfth grade symphony orchestra, concert choir and chamber choir that meet during the school day. Every enrolled student also receives a weekly pullout music lesson as part of the curriculum requirement. Extracurricular activities include instrumental and vocal jazz ensembles, wind ensembles, the Tri-M Music Honor Society and annual participation in an extensive major musical production. In addition to our performance-based ensembles, classroom music courses at the high school level include Music Theory, Music In Our Lives and Music Production Technology which are all taught in our state-of-the-art music technology labs.
Student accomplishment in music is evident at all grade levels. The success of our programs is evidenced by the number of students recognized for their musical talents. Our staff members pride themselves in providing as many out-of-district opportunities as possible for their students, including performances, contests and exhibits in a variety of venues.
Excellent results of music students are evident in the number of musicians selected to perform with the All-County and All-State ensembles. Well over 1,300 students participate in the annual NYSSMA solo/ensemble state-wide assessment. Consistently, over ninety percent of these students score a rating of "Outstanding " or "Excellent" (Level I-IV) or "A+" or "A" (Level V-VI). Consequently, Half Hollow Hills has had one of the highest number of participants from any school district in New York State at the annual NYSSMA All-State Conference several times throughout the past ten years. This year, with 24 students selected for All-State Honors, Half Hollow Hills had the highest number of participants in Suffolk County! Of these students, five were selected for All-Eastern Honors and two of these students were also chosen to represent New York State in the National Honors Orchestra, performing at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. We also boast one of the largest numbers of student participants in the annual All-County SCMEA and LISFA Festivals each and every year. This year, in the annual NYSSMA Major Organization Festivals, we had several groups participating at both the elementary and secondary level, receiving "Gold" and "Gold with Distinction" awards consistently. In regional competitions, our high school and middle school performing groups score consistent "Superior" and "Excellent" ratings across the board.
For updated highlights of current student achievements in music, click "Student Achieivements" in the drop-down menu at the top left corner of this page.
These individual and group achievements are reflections of the Half Hollow Hills music programs throughout the District. The newest standards of achievement prescribed by the State Education Department outline and codify the curriculum this district has been presenting for many years. These standards will be reflected in revised and updated curriculum guides continually being developed on a year to year basis. We will continue to focus on the development of talent and potential, while providing every student with opportunities to excel in programs of his or her choice.