MR: We will be competing in the SINGSTRONG DC High School A Capella Competition on April 2. The group will perform at 8:30 that morning, and then the top eight groups will compete in the finals at 2:00 pm that same day. This is their first competition so we are kind of nervous and excited at the same time. The rest of the weekend will be concerts, vocal classes and workshops. The headliner this year is Take 6.
KS: As most already know as we are all so very excited, your current A Capella Group, Fermata Nowhere, will be performing March 18 with Barry Manilow at the Turning Stone Event Center. How exciting this is? Can you share how this came about?
MR: Yes, we are all so excited. What an amazing opportunity for these students. I am so happy that they will get to experience something so incredible. One of Barry Manilow’s production managers called RFA, as he had heard there was an A Capella group. I couldn’t believe it. “No Way, Barry Manilow?” I told him I would ask the group and get back to him. I called him the next day after dicussing it with the kids, and it was set.
KS: We are so excited for the students and hope to be able to bring our readers highlights from that show. There is also another student, Quiana Holmes who graduated from RFA in 2014, I believe, who has had some amazing success already in her young career. She is currently touring with the production of Dancing In The Streets, Motown’s Greatest Hits. Talk to us a little about Quiana and students like her that have gone on to live their dreams.
MR: Quiana was an amazing musician. I recognized her talent immediately when I was teaching at Staley. As soon as I heard her sing back in 5th grade, I told her parents to get her to a studio to do some recording. I had the pleasure of working with Quiana at RFA as well when I transferred at the same time she entered high school. She was a part of many performing groups at RFA, and I was elated to find out that she wanted to pursue a career in music. I tell all of my students to follow their dreams and shoot for the stars, no matter how far they are. I am so proud of Quiana for following her dreams and making them come true; and I am just as proud of all of my students whether they decide to pursue music or not.
KS: I can’t say enough how awesome the music programs at our schools are here in Rome. As districts try to slash budgets, the arts are generally one thing that tends to be reviewed (eliminated) first. If you had to give advice to other school districts across the country as to the importance of these programs, what advice would you give?
MR: Advocate for your program! Get your students performing publicly in as many places as possible. Contact the local newspapers and TV channels. The more the district’s administrators and the community see the students, the better chance you will have of keeping music in your schools.
KS: For anyone interested in helping the program out or attending the remainder of the shows for the school year, how and where would they go?
MR: Most of our upcoming concerts are on the district calendar on the district website, www.romecsd.org Anyone interested in helping out our program, could contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The passion Michelle Rushford and all the musical educators at the Rome City School District is contagious. It spreads among the students, their parents, and the entire community. Having a student in the district that has been part of the music program, I can attest to the fact that every concert is performed to a sold out venue, consisting of not only parents and students, but also community members who just enjoy wonderful music.