NPR aired an interesting story this morning on the CarnegieHall sponsored National Youth Orchestra, a group of 140 students from 38 states now practicing in Purchase before heading to the Kennedy Center and then Russia. The snippet of a performance NPR played in the background (Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto, I believe, but those with more musical knowledge than I should feel free to correct me) sounded more than just professional; it was great.
I was struck by a conversation the reporter had with 17-year old trombonist Skye Dearborn, from Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls, SD, because it made me wonder what sort of music facilities the school provides its students to get a girl like Skye all the way to Carnegie Hall. I couldn’t find out that exact information but I did learn that Lincoln was named as one of the best 1,200 high schools in the country by Newsweek in 2006 and, while it does have a marching band that has performed, several times, in the Rose Bowl, it spends just $7,288 per pupil, per year. Total enrollment at the high school is 1,986. Judging from its picture, Lincoln looks like a very nice school: quite similar to our own high school, in fact.
But whatever the relative cost of living between Greenwich and Sioux Falls, I’m pretty sure that there’s no $55 million music palace at Lincoln High – not when they’re spending just about one-third per pupil what we are. Makes you wonder whether Greenwich parents’ insistence that such an edifice is essential to their children’s success is in fact true; I’ll bet it isn’t.