The Virgin Islands Department of Education’s Division of Music Education and Programs is commemorating the national celebration of “Music in Our Schools Month” in March with specially curated virtual conversations featuring music educators, performers, students and more, at 6:30 p.m. on Mondays in March on the department’s Facebook Live platform.
The next installments of Music Mondays will feature Rashawn Ross and Delyno “Pressure” Brown on March 22, and Dion Parson on March 29.
“Music Mondays is a concept I came up with since the schools are not getting the opportunity to truly collaborate the way they normally would,” said Dionne Donadelle, territorial director of music education and programs, who hosts the weekly online program. “Its purpose is to bring attention to music and its many components.”
Donadelle said a goal of Music Mondays is to ensure “the community understands that music is still very relevant if not more than ever before. My guests will range from current and retired educators, performers of all genres, music students at various stages in their development, and professionals in other careers in music you can find Virgin Islanders making a big impact.”
While the 2021 national theme for “Music in Our Schools Month” is “Music: The Sound of My Heart,” Donadelle decided on a theme that she felt was more fitting locally: “See Where Music Lies.”
“I have chosen to use a concept that I found demonstrates where music lies, and music lies everywhere — in math, language, history, reading and science,” she said. The visual representation of the theme is depicted on a promotional flyer with the Virgin Islands cultural madras pattern interwoven throughout the wording.
“We have seen a decline in the interests of our ‘special subjects,’ and I wanted everyone to know music and the arts will always be important,” she said.
Due to the pandemic, activities for ‘Music in Our Schools Month” have been scaled down this year. However, in addition to Music Mondays, Donadelle has instituted special professional development opportunities for local music educators (MEs).
“I created ‘Thursday Talks w/ME and Mind’ that are exclusively for the music educators in the territory,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for the educators to see what’s working for some of their colleagues, what’s not, suggestions on how to improve and a way learn about additional resources.” She also pointed out that the group has other projects in the works that will be shared at a later date.
Donadelle founded “Music is ME” in 2016 for Music in Our Schools Month. She explained that the “MEs of the Month feature educators that may be doing just a little more than the already-extraordinary things my music educators accomplish all year round.”
Last March, music educators Akeel Breedy of Addelita Cancryn Intermediate and Jr. High School along with Sacha Alexander of St. Croix Central High School were selected as MEs of the Month, but they were not recognized as planned because the territory began shutting down with the arrival of the pandemic. Donadelle has retained the two educators as the 2021 MEs of the Month.
The first two installments of Music Mondays featured music educators Kevre Hendricks, Alexander, Breedy and Malvern Gumbs on March 8, and Valrica Bryson and Georgia Francis on March 15.
Donadelle hopes to host Music Mondays at least once a month going forward.
“I will continue to push music education along with the assistance of my music educators, both current and retired,” she said. “I would like the community to know that I appreciate all the efforts that my music educators continue to make, despite not having all the necessary resources.”