LUTZ – It isn’t always easy to get children to listen to – let alone perform – music that isn’t found blaring out of a radio or iPod.
If it isn’t on the MTV Music Awards, chances are most students haven’t heard it.
That’s the challenge facing the Martinez Middle School music department. It’s a challenge that they have passed with flying colors.
Martinez, 5601 W. Lutz Lake Fern Road in Lutz, received top honors from the Florida Music Educators’ Association, an organization that only honors schools with more than 35 percent of its enrollment participating in music classes.
That was no problem for Martinez. Nearly 60 percent of its enrollment participates under the teaching and instruction of Chad DeLoach, chorus; Chris Johns, band; and Karen Bishop, orchestra and guitar.
“The kids have music they like but they are interested in learning more about reading music and how it works,” said DeLoach, who has two degrees in music from Florida State University and also teaches the Martinez musical theater program. “Only about 30 other schools in the state had more than 30 percent enrolled in music class, so this is special.”
Deciding which choral music isn’t always easy. DeLoach, who said he listens to a little bit of everything except rap music, said it’s a difficult situation. He wants the students to be entertained, but also to learn about the intricacies of music.
“It’s a huge chore and it’s something I have to grapple with,” DeLoach said. “They have to learn the text of the music. The students can learn a lot more about the music if they listen to it and know how to read it. Especially if it is something they aren’t used to listening to.”
DeLoach doesn’t refer to his choral music as music, but instead as literature. Famous composers such as Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven are known for their music, but DeLoach said almost of the great classical musicians put words to their music, mostly based on a religious theme.
He has a great deal of respect for the classical composers who wrote without the benefit of sitting in a recording studio. Everything, he said, came from the mind and was put on to paper – there were no mixers and producers.
That’s what he is trying to get across to his students. He also said he is blessed to work at a school like Martinez with such a strong emphasis on music.
“I really care about the fact that the administration lets me do my job and lets me use the literature that I want,” DeLoach said. “We give them challenges and I won’t pick music that is too easy. As long as it is attainable I want them to take on new challenges.”
The Martinez chorus puts on four shows a year. The first three are mostly based on DeLoach’s choice of music. The final show is a mix where the students can make requests. If there is sheet music and the work can be translated into something with harmonies, DeLoach is all ears.
DeLoach said he and the rest of the music faculty at Martinez are happy to expose the students to something that isn’t blasting away on their iPods.
“The kids find that they like it,” DeLoach said. “It’s a whole new experience for them.’’