CAPE ELIZABETH — It’s a Friday afternoon and the Middle School band is well into practice.
The beating of drums and higher-pitched notes from clarinets and flutes combine smoothly in a familiar patriotic song, “America the Beautiful.”
The band is rehearsing for its role in May’s Memorial Day parade. The students are sight reading, never having before seen the sheet music. It’s a learning benchmark for the students and Caitlyn Ramsey, Middle School band director and instrumental music teacher.
It’s a skill they’ve learned since the school year started. It’s also a reason why the music instruction at Cape Elizabeth Middle School is the recipient of a “Best Communities for Music Education” award from the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation.
Maine, and specifically Cape Elizabeth, was among a handful of New England school music programs recognized for its music instruction quality.
Ramsey said 320 youngsters at the middle school, or about 70 percent, participate in band or chorus.
“I think the parents in this community understand and value music,” she said.
Many of the middle-schoolers will continue music studies as they get to high school. The elementary school music program is a strong feeder program to middle school, she said.
The award recognizes the district’s music education and instruction and its students learning and performance skills.
“We feel very excited and honored to be a part of that,” Ramsey said.
Applying for the award requires submitting detailed plans of music curriculum, student achievement, community support, funding and graduation requirements. Cape Elizabeth is one of 527 school district’s across the country to receive the honor.
Ramsey is a 13-year teacher in the district.
Cape Elizabeth Middle School band director Caitlyn Ramsey.