Dusty Molyneaux is the Supervisor of the Fine Arts Department for the Great Falls Public Schools.  He has a passion for his work, and it shows throughout the entire community.  He is in charge of the entire student population K-12 and works directly with the various teachers and instructors at each school.  Anyone that has a student in school or a child that has been through the program knows what I am talking about.  Earlier this week I had a chance to visit with Dusty about the program.  I asked him about working with the youngest of his musical talents:

Dusty: The cute factor is pretty impressive. I was at programs yesterday and it's fun to just watch the progression from kindergarten through 6th grade. It really doesn't matter what they do at kindergarten. The parents are going to love it just because they're up on the risers and they're performing for the very first time. And then they start to really start to click in the second and third grades and their singing voices really become apparent. And then we start making music and it's nice to see that kind of evolve into more of a chorus thing by the time they get into 5th and 6th grade. And to watch that progress again at the middle school and high schools is really cool. But yeah, it's fun to see it all the way through that's. One of the best parts of my job is these few weeks where I get to see all the kids and all the progress.

Music is required at the elementary and middle school level.  In High School, it isn’t required, although a Fine Arts Credit is needed to graduate.  Dusty understands the importance of music.

Dusty: Just like math, just like English. It's a way of learning, it's a way of communicating. It's an important skill to have some fundamental aspects of. So, as they go through general music, they get a half hour a week, once a week, which isn't a whole lot of time when you think about it. So, you miss a day here, you miss a day there. It's not a ton of time that they get to put in. So, the real rubber hits the road in the middle school when they are able to have music every day in the instrumental classes and in the choir classes. Our general music classes are every other day, so they still get quite a concentration at that level. And then after that, the kids get to decide if they want to do that in high school.

GFPS have done a great job in creating a program that many students continue into high school and even expand their participation in.

Dusty: It's kind of interesting, our statistics in Great Falls, when you compare national statistics to how many kids are participating in music programs, you're lucky if you get 15% to 20% in most big high schools across the nation, and we're usually in the mid to high 30s for participation all the way through. So that's pretty impressive. We have some of the best teachers in the state. I think we have the best teachers in the state, but maybe I'm biased a little bit.

Dusty told me that volunteers are always needed.

Dusty: You can always call our office and we can point you in the right direction because a lot of times it gets complicated, especially when you're at the high school level, like where do you want to go? That type of thing. But we do have department heads at each high school. And I can sort of funnel things through my office to them and figure out at the middle schools we also have department heads. And it just would depend on and how you want to help out there too. So we're always looking for parent involvement. We want our parents to be involved with their kids.

To see upcoming concerts and events click here.  For more information you can go to school website or call them at 406-268-6000

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