Posted in Colchester High School, Community, General, Malletts Bay School, Programs, Student Spotlight

Creating Harmony

Music education opens doors that help children pass from school into the world around them—a world of work, culture, intellectual activity, and human involvement. The future of our nation depends on providing our children with a complete education that includes music.
—President Gerald Ford

Colchester High School has an impressive music department that consists of band and chorus ensembles; Evan Peltier directs the the high school jazz band and concert band (as well as the Colchester Community Band), and Melissa Towle heads up each of the CHS chorus groups—chorus, concert choir, chamber singers, and chorale.

CHS’s music program makes a tremendous effort to perform throughout the community—providing music for everything from community spaghetti dinners to senior housing centers. The choral groups have numerous performances scheduled throughout our community in just the month of December alone (the performance dates and locations are posted on the CHS Choral Music website). Many CHS band students are also members of the Colchester Community Band, which meets throughout the summer and is open to all community members. It is a powerful way for the students and the community members to connect through music.

Similarly, CHS’s music program connects with other music programs in our district to help facilitate and mentor students of all ages and inspire in them a love of music. For example, CHS music students have mentored fifth-grade band students at Malletts Bay School, and a district-wide band and choral concert is planned in which all ensembles will come together and perform collectively.

CHS’s music program is also able to offer a wide variety of small group and solo performance opportunities through such avenues as playing in the orchestra for musicals, playing in a small jazz combo setting, or singing and playing guitar at a CHS Coffeehouse event (which, for those who are not familiar, is a monthly evening show that is open to all CHS students which provides a supportive venue for those with musical abilities that may not have any other way to publicly share their talent).

CHS also consistently enjoys a presence in a wide range of music festivals, including the annual Vermont Music Educators Association District Festival, the All State Music Festival, and the New England Music Festival. And the choral presence at these festivals has markedly increased under choral director Melissa Towle’s leadership.

Music education and musical performance are beneficial to students in a number of different ways. Seemingly countless studies have credited music education programs with contributing to:

  • enhanced standardized testing scores across an array of subject areas
  • developing language and listening skills
  • decreasing disruptive behaviors
  • increasing focus, abstract reasoning, and spatial-temporal skills
  • improving self-discipline, cognitive development, and communication skills
  • enhancing students’ self-esteem, self-confidence, creativity, imagination, and intellectual curiosity
  • relieving stress
  • developing a sense of camaraderie and collaboration

Students of music have also been found to receive more academic honors and awards than non-music students. And that just scratches the surface of what current research indicates are some of the benefits of music education. It truly is a worthy pursuit, and we are proud of our students’ exceptional talent and the opportunities within our music programs.

And music lovers will have an opportunity to see two CHS musicians perform in upcoming holiday performances; seniors Jacob Morton-Black and Lauren Zwonik will soon perform at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts.

Jacob Morton-Black, who plays French horn with the CHS band, the Vermont Youth Orchestra (VYO), the University of Vermont Orchestra, and the University of Vermont Wind Ensemble, has also composed several pieces—one of which, his “Danse Slav et Valse” composition, will be performed by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra (VSO) at its Holiday Pops event on December 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Flynn in Burlington. The VSO will also perform the piece on December 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Barre Opera House and on December 9 at 3:00 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre in Rutland. Morton-Black, who plans to study composition and conducting in college, recently won a Vermont Music Teachers Association (MTNA) competition for his flute and piano duet “Trois Scenes Russe,” and the VYO performed his first orchestral piece “Overture” at the Flynn last year. He has been asked to compose a piece for the combined Colchester Community Concert Band and Chorus for the town’s 250th celebration in May 2013.

Lauren Zwonik, who plays flute with the CHS band and the VYO, will be a featured soloist at the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association’s Orchestrapalooza on December 9 at 4:00 p.m. at the Flynn, performing Mozart’s Concerto in D Major, third movement. She was the only student in Vermont—and one of only 185 students nationwide—to participate in the Macy’s Great American Marching Band in the 86th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this year.

“Having two Colchester High School students involved in such prestigious venues really speaks to the quality of the district’s music programs and its teachers,” said Marie Bouffard, chair of Friends of Colchester Music.

CHS will hold its Winter Jubilee Concert at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 19. And remember that CHS’s calendar of events can be found on the school’s website, and Colchester School District posts a district-wide calendar of events, as well!

If you would like more information, please e-mail CHS band director Evan Peltier ( or CHS choir director Melissa Towle (

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