Skip to main content

News & Events

OUR STORIES

Music Education at PCSD Hits a High Note

Made Possible by a PCEF Classroom Grant


“By interacting with a composer; students bring a different energy to performance, learn about a side of the music industry that most teachers don't have expertise in, and get the opportunity to provide a truly authentic interpretation of the piece since there are no existing recordings to influence their musical choices.” 
-Bret Hughes, PCSD’s Fine Arts Coordinator and Eccles Center for the Performing Arts Director


The Composer in Residence program at Park City School District began as a pilot Classroom Grant with 16 student performers in the Music Department's Percussion program in 2021. Spearheaded by Bret Hughes while in his previous role as Park City High School Music Teacher, the program has further evolved over the past two years. Now in its third year, it’s led by Eva Marble, Music Teacher at PCHS.

The initiative was groundbreaking, according to Hughes. He stated, “The original intent of the Composer in Residence program was amazing in that it allowed students to learn from living artists who were professionals in their craft. By interacting with a composer; students bring a different energy to performance, learn about a side of the music industry that most teachers don't have expertise in, and get the opportunity to provide a truly authentic interpretation of the piece since there are no existing recordings to influence their musical choices.” Students performed in front of an audience at the end of the residency, and the pilot gained traction to further develop the initiative within the music department for the following year.

As the pilot pivoted and grew into a larger program during the 2022/23 school year with 60 philharmonic orchestra students, excitement followed. This year’s program has grown to several hundred secondary music students ranging from beginner- to advanced-level skills. Marble emphasized the importance of commissioning a composer to create a multi-level piece tailored to such a wide range of participants. She stated, “We have 250 students from sixth to 12th grade in the ensemble. Skill levels vary depending on the student, and participants may be up to seven years apart in age – so there are some challenges to ensure everyone is growing and learning. Composing music with various ages and abilities in mind has allowed all participants to experience true art and not be limited by the abilities of our youngest musicians.”

The culmination of this year’s Composer in Residence program took to the stage in February as students performed their commissioned piece at the annual String Thing concert. “This performance showcased the true progression from beginner- to advanced-student musicians, demonstrating the growth and development achieved through the program – and will hopefully continue to fuel interest and student enthusiasm around understanding music, performance and the creative process,” Marble said.

Each year the initiative gains popularity and continues to grow, evolve, and improve. Currently, the program has shifted to prioritize composers from underrepresented groups. Hughes noted, “Providing opportunities for our non-caucasian students and non-male students to meet and possibly see themselves represented in professional composers who have experienced success in their craft will provide benefits that we are not aware of and cannot be measured. Providing the opportunity for all of our students to explicitly acknowledge that there is unintentional bias embedded in the history of music composition and publishing is a requirement of being a compassionate musician in the 21st century.”

Beyond educational importance, Hughes highlighted some additional benefits of commissioning music and supporting the arts. He stated, “The program provides an opportunity for additional high-quality music to make its way into widespread publication and performance, supports the trade and careers of professional musical artists, and potentially allows composer’s greater artistic freedom where they may take more risks being paid to create their art, rather than getting paid to sell their art.”

Awarding Classroom Grants to make programs like the Composer in Residence possible is a top priority for PCEF, made possible by $1,700,000 in donor funding to support 100 programs throughout PCSD and 8 Signature Initiatives. In 2022/23, PCEF supported 1,850 students in secondary music, drama, and arts classes. PCEF aims to inspire all students to reach their academic and lifelong potential. Educators are encouraged to apply for PCEF grant funding to enhance classroom programming and provide students with the best possible educational experience. 

Read about the 42 Classroom Grants supported by PCEF for the 2023/24 school year.

Your Impact This Year

  • Students Reached

    4500

  • Invested in Our Schools

    $1,500,000

  • % Parents Giving 2022/23

    50%

  • Programs Funded

    100

  • Ascent Fund
    Ascent Fund
  • Beard Charitable Foundation
    Beard Charitable Foundation
  • Byrne Family Foundation Trust
    Byrne Family Foundation Trust
  • Dan & Terese Heintzelman Family Foundation
    Dan & Terese Heintzelman Family Foundation
  • Garen Family Foundation
    Garen Family Foundation
  • John C Kish Foundation
    John C Kish Foundation
  • Montage Deer Valley
    Montage Deer Valley
  • Park City Mountain Resort
    Park City Mountain Resort
  • Park City Municipal
    Park City Municipal
  • Parker Family Charitable Fund
    Parker Family Charitable Fund
  • Tatiana and Matthew Prince
    Tatiana and Matthew Prince
  • The Efrusy Family Foundation
    The Efrusy Family Foundation
  • United Way of SLC
    United Way of SLC
  • Zions Bank
    Zions Bank
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
© 2024 Park City Education Foundation

Powered by Firespring