After years of cramped quarters, Glenelg's musicians ready to play on a larger scale


February 27, 2003|By Diane Mikulis | Diane Mikulis,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

AFTER YEARS of sitting shoulder-to-shoulder and bumping each other with instruments, music students at Glenelg High School will soon have a new and much larger home. Under construction since early last year, the Fine Arts Wing is scheduled to open next month. Students, teachers and parents are thrilled.

"I'm really excited," said senior Kim Sandifer, "I wish I could have more time in it."

Kim plays the French horn in the wind ensemble and has rehearsed in the crowded band room for past four years. "I guess we've all gotten used to it," she said. "There're a lot of obstacles. It's hard to get in and out during class changes, and even harder to get out of your seat during class."

The band room, designed for 50 students, often has to hold 80 - with instruments. The new room will be about three times as large.

"We're going to have tons of room," said Jeremy Kraeuter, a senior who plays in the orchestra, symphonic band and marching band.

Jeremy plays the bassoon, which as he explained requires more space than most other instruments because it must be placed to the side of the musician. He is looking forward to less cramped quarters. "It's going to be a different experience," he said.

Plans to build the wing started in 1995 when Barry Enzman, band director for Glenelg, and many parents asked the Board of Education for more space for the student musicians. By 1999, funding was secured and sketches were drawn.

Originally, the school planned to expand the band room, which is at the rear of the school. But one of the sketches showed a new area connected to the auditorium at the front of the school.

"We liked that," Enzman said. "It makes sense to be near the performance area."

The wing will also house the choral music program. There will be two large rehearsal rooms, two ensemble rooms, storage rooms for uniforms and instruments, offices, an instrument repair area and music libraries. An auditorium lobby is also part of the project.

Nancy Buckel, choral music director, looks forward to teaching in the new room.

"We're kind of at the edges of the walls here," she said. "We're wall-to-wall kids." Last year, she taught 135 students in one class. The students stood during class because there was no room for chairs. The new facility can accommodate 120 students - and 120 chairs.

"The [new] room is deeper, so I can actually hear them better. I'll be farther away," she explained. "It's much more conducive to a better musical academic experience for the kids."

During the construction, Glenelg has had to move its concerts to other schools, such as Atholton and Mount Hebron. Enzman has lots of praise for the schools that have played host to Glenelg's performances. He also praises the parents in the PTA and Band Boosters.

With three children having gone through Glenelg's music program and one still there, parent Vida Vaskys has nine years of experience volunteering in the school with the music department.

"I think it's a long time overdue," she said of the addition. "I think our teachers have done a remarkable job under the conditions they've had to work in. The quality of the music program didn't suffer. They deserve this."

Glenelg's bands and choruses have developed a strong tradition of musical excellence over the years, often performing and competing out of state and in Europe.

Sue Emerson, president of the Marching Unit Boosters and mother of a sophomore jazz band member, is also thankful for the addition. "It's unbelievable that we could have a program that was so outstanding with the facilities we had," she said. "The band program is more than the building you're in. It's about the kids and the discipline they're learning and the teamwork."

There will be a lot of teamwork when the wing opens. Teachers, students and parents plan to move everything into the new space Saturday - instruments, furniture, music stands, books, uniforms and the many trophies and awards the students have won over the years.

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