This past week, I went on a trip with my college choir to Kansas City, Missouri and Topeka, Kansas. Upon first glance, my surroundings, upon arrival, did not greatly differ from that of my own hometown in Ithaca, NY. March was a brown and gray month. The environment–the sky, ground, and buildings–all reflected that boring time in between the glistening snow and budding spring. The food was good, comforting, with healthy finds throughout the city, especially Kansas City, and I was comforted by the amount of family activities and kid-friendly options there were and are to explore. Landmarks and memorials also sprinkle the city–the World War I Memorial, a Sidney Opera House look alike (and the city's music hall), a look alike of Seville's La Giralda in the Plaza shopping center, Hallmark's headquarters, and many other attractions.
Above all, as a music student, I was impressed by the public schools of the area. Middle and high schools take choral studies and activities to a whole new level. They appreciate the arts so much more than what I have seen throughout New York State, Boston, and many other areas throughout the East Coast. This was not only my belief, but a view my fellow singers felt as well, and a reason many choral directors make the move from the east to the midwest. It is nice to see music so highly valued, and it excites me to see such strides being taken, rather than funding going only to activities such as sports and STEM. Music is vital to our society, and personally, I find that STEM should be be spelled STEMM, that extra "m" standing for music. It seems the midwest has already begun seeing music and community in this light.