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High School Music Students Participate in Unique Learning Experience

One Webster high school music students are participating in an unique learning opportunity. They are one of only three school districts, including Penfield and Irondequoit, connecting with Eastman School of Music to learn how Representation Matters in the world of classical music.
Representation Matters is a project created by Eastman School of Music student Travon Walker that brings classical music to middle and high schools through a new, equitable lens. Launched last year by the aspiring opera singer studying vocal performance and arts leadership, the project focuses on music created by Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC).
Webster Thomas and Webster Schroeder high schools’ music teachers share with their students pieces created by BIPOC composers and performed by Eastman students. Then the class has a Zoom meeting with Walker and some of the performers, most of whom are BIPOC. The Eastman students candidly share their experiences as being BIPOC musicians in the classical field and answer Webster students’ questions. 
“Of course students wanted to know about favorite composers and performers and technical aspects of playing and singing at a higher level, but so much more came across during this open discussion!” Webster CSD Director of Fine Arts Michael Roller shared after the first Zoom meeting. “I heard a conversation that was uplifting and advocating for people of color in classical music, building appreciation across many groups, and striving for awareness and change within the music community and beyond. This is important for One Webster students.”
“Our goal is to show BIPOC youth that they belong in this classical music space and that there is a place for them,” Walker is quoted as saying in a story about Representation Matters on the University of Rochester Alumni website. “For young people, seeing others who look like them helps them feel included – it inspires them to imagine that they could make music like this, too.”
Walker added that it’s important for white students to see this as well. 
Webster CSD’s first session with Representation Matters took place March 10 with students from the Webster Thomas Philharmonic Orchestra. Subsequent sessions were March 17 with Webster Thomas choral students and March 24 with Webster Thomas band students. Two dates are being scheduled in April with Webster Schroeder High School music students.


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