The Power of Music


Karla Beck

Angela Manriquez and Gabriela Trapero play trumpet at a football game for pep band.

Many people wonder about the importance of music and how it is something that is taught to the student body. I decided to speak to our two high school music directors to have their take as to why they teach it, and what it’s truly about for them. Writing this article, I hope to inspire others, give meaning and recognition to not only the music department but music in general.

What is Band & Choir?

Band consists of a 6th grade band, 7th and 8th grade band and lastly concert band which is made up of high school

students who join. Choir also has a 6th grade choir but it is required, a 7th grade choir, an 8th grade choir, varisty choir, and concert choir. Varsity choir is made up of the freshman or the 9th graders. Concert choir includes students in their Sophomore year and older. In choir class, you learn to not only sing but in some cases clap or move along to the rhythm of the songs you sing. You also learn to sing in different languages and perform songs of all different genres. Once a year for concert choir you also attend Big South Music Festival, it is like one big concert filled with different schools and people. This event is attended by many schools and music directors to give you advice on what would make you a better choir. In band class, you practice and perform songs of all genres.Concert band attends sport events and play music as pep band.

Karla Beck
St. James band director, Karen Lahti directs pep band at a volleyball game

They also attend 3 different parades every year, this includes the Railroads Day parade, Godahl parade, and the homecoming parade. Both concert band and choir attend contests every year as a group for a score rating. Both groups also have three concerts every year, a holiday concert, a winter concert and a spring concert.

Karla Beck
Nicholas Brey directs the St. James marching band in our 2019 homecoming parade.

Participation is key!

One important thing for students who are considering joining choir or band is that there are many things to participate in, individually or with a friend. To get into depth about what activities are available for choir, I interviewed our St. James choir director Mrs. Kulseth. She started off by excitedly saying “There is a lot of things you can participate in choir!”. As for band, I emailed our St. James band director Mrs. Lahti for her input.

Small Groups; Band & Choir

During my interview, Mrs. Kulseth began by starting off with the small groups you can join. One of which is Limited Edition, this is a small group that meets two mornings a week before school at 7:25 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They are a show choir that sing and dance. Although, if you don’t like dancing there is always Madrigals which is an acapella small group that meets before school every Monday at 7:30 and Thursday at 7:55. If you are a middle school student, those same groups are available but are called Junior Madrigals and Second Edition which are specifically for younger choir students. As for band, Mrs. Lahti replied with her list including small groups. Band has a small group for instrumentalist who like a groove to their music. Jazz Unlimited is exactly what it is named, this small group plays jazz music. They meet every Wednesday and Friday morning at 7:25. Once again if you are a middle school student who is interested, the same thing is available but with Junior Jazz band.


If you want to experience something once a year, choir holds two solo/ensemble concerts each year. One is a holiday concert and the other is a pop concert, you get to pick whatever song you would like to sing relating to these categories as long as it is school appropriate and perform it in front of an audience. If you have a bit of stage fright, no worries! These concerts allow you to sign up to sing with a friend or up to three other friends. The same rule applies with contests. Contests is where you choose a song, have multiple lessons to learn it and perform it with an accompanist for a score at MSU in March. The scoring works from the lowest you can get, which is good, to fair, excellent and the highest being a superior. Between band and choir, you are allowed to choose up to seven different performances! That is of course if you are up to the challenge.

Why Music?

 When interviewing both Mrs kulseth and Mrs Lahti, I asked or emailed them what music is to them and about their actual teaching of their class. My first question on this topic was as to why they think music is something important to  be taught. Both teachers agreed through their responses that music is a form of self-expression. Mrs. Lahti explains through her email back to me, “Students who play an instrument in Band improve their math skills, reading and comprehension, increase their memory, and improve their hand-eye coordination. They also develop a lifelong appreciation of music.” which I found very interesting. Mrs. Kulseth answered “Music reflects humanity and music reflects what we all believe and what we all think. It is a world uniting thing. Every culture, every single culture has music all over the world and we can get a little snip-it or a glimpse of all those different cultures and all those different ideas and attitudes from all over the world by singing their music and learning the text.”. This response left me in awe seeing how much music can really mean to a person and what it truly does teach others. My last question on their teaching of music was what they enjoyed about teaching music. Both teachers added in about how they enjoy watching students grow musically with Mrs. Lahti writing “I love teaching music. The students are great, and they are not afraid of a challenge. It’s very rewarding to see them grow musically and to invest themselves in music. Also, there are always many styles of music we’re working on in class which keeps it interesting.” and Mrs. Kulseth says ” I enjoy watching kids grow and blossom because often times when they come in they’re a little bit nervous and a little bit shy and I kind of say “Hey you can do this!” and then we practice and practice and they get way more comfortable and then they have a really great performance and then they really feel that confidence.” both responses show how passionate they are about what they teach.


Are you not already a member to either of these classes? Would you like to join one? Mrs. Kulseth and Mrs. Lahti are both here to help. I asked both of them what their advice would be for students looking to join. Mrs. Lahti replied “I would tell them to try it. They should know upfront though, that it takes practice, just like anything else in which you want to be good. With that being said, it’s a lot of fun, and we’d love to have you join one of our classes.” also if you’re unsure of whether you will like it and worried about the pricing of an instrument, there’s a solution as Lahti continues “We have school instruments to rent and so do the music stores. It’s an inexpensive way to see if you’re interested without having to purchase a new horn. I’d be happy to help you get started. There is a place for you in our program.”.

Daisy Trejo
St. James Choir Director, Alison Kulseth

Mrs. Kulseth’s response was just as encouraging as she started “Go for it and take a risk and try something new. We’d really love to have kids that are open minded to try new things, maybe to sing in some different languages and also kids that are willing to focus and work hard because we’ll be really proud of that product. It’s so fun when you know you’re really good at something, so I think that I’d love to have kids that wanna have fun with it because music should be fun!”

With that being said, I hope some students look through or even read this entire article to get to know more about our music programs here at St. James Middle and High School. I also hope some student out there who is unsure is now inspired to try something new and grow musically. Stay inspired and take that risk!