MusicMatters Spotlight

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Throughout the month of June, Salem Five Bank and the River asked area high school musicians to submit their music for the chance to record a track in the famous River Music Hall. We also asked them to tell us why they believe school music programs are important. On Friday evening, September 19th, one overall will be chosen, and Salem Five Bank will donate $500 to their high school music department.

Meet our top 10 finalists, check out their music, and find out why music matters to them!

Let us know your favorite on Facebook:

The MusicMatters Top Ten Finalist Playlist:

MusicMatters Finalist Profiles (in alphabetical order):

Michelle Beaulieu

Masconomet Regional High School, Topsfield, MA | Song: “California Baby”

Being able to have a break in your day and sit down and get lost in something you love even for just an hour is so important to developing your voice, and ultimately, who you are. It’s not the motions we go through each day that define us, but the thing we choose to do everyday because it allows us to define ourselves. For me, that thing is music. Having a music program in schools gives us that opportunity to do the thing we love and find a community of similar people who support one another. Because our lives can get so busy, and we get caught up in all of the activities we have to do but might not want to, having a music program during school that allows high schoolers to create and really enjoy music is invaluable to helping kids establish who they are and who they want to be.

Estéban Dardani

St. Paul’s School, Concord New Hampshire | Song: “If You’re Alone”

Most of the curriculum in high school cannot provoke the same emotions that music can. By having recourses for students to be able to study music, we can broaden our understanding of what it means to have an education.

Katrina Gustafson

Lynnfield High School, Lynnfield, MA | Song: “Everyday”

Music has helped me to become a little less shy and a little more confident, especially with talking in front of people. The teachers and other kids are so supportive and make everyone feel like they are part of something special and are special themselves, no matter how good or bad they sing or play.  The music teachers at our school really seem to care about the students and help them to be proud of any improvements they make. I think even the students that don’t continue with music after high school are better people because of the music program.

Jazzy Hunter

Bedford High School, Bedford, NH | Song: “I Am Free”

Music in our school systems is so so so so important. I wouldn’t be where I was if it weren’t for the music I was part of in school. It’s a shame that some schools cant afford a music department and I think music classes are a must!!!!

Kristofer Jedd and Ben Schultz

Kearsarge Regional High School, Sutton, NH | Song: “Forget About You”

We believe that music is important in every aspect, but especially within school systems. It gives students a way to think freely and show creativity on a level that no other classes offer. Music has personally been a passion of ours since we can remember. We believe that music is important for creative development and a necessity in everyday life. People have a strong connection with music that really reflects our expressions in the most raw sense of expression. Every aspect of music is important to us as individuals from buying vinyl, listening, supporting artists, jamming and recording.

Amanda Kenerson

Timberland High School, Danville, NH | Song: “Broken”

It teaches kids to express themselves in a way that nothing else does.

Sean Leahy (Exit 18)

Beverly High School, Beverly, MA | Song: “It’s a Tragedy”

I have many reasons why I believe music is important in our school systems. Music is one of, if not the most important thing in my life. As a band, we play as many shows and get our name out there as much as we can because there is nothing we want more than to have people see us perform and hear our own music. Having people sing our words back to us and having it mean something to them. We also know that this doesn’t just go for us. Kids in schools need a music program because music changes lives. Having a music program allows kids to express themselves and meet new friends while doing that. You learn to play or sing with a group as a whole and work together with other people. It also allows concerts such as at our school the winter and spring concerts, where what the kids have worked on the whole semester can show the entire school how hard they have been working to play music for other people. Not just those concerts, but music programs bring the kids to other parts of the country on music trips to showcase their talent. This year at Beverly High School, we got to drive to Chicago and perform there. It was amazing and an experience I will never forget.

Renee Leavitt

Austin Prep, Reading, MA | Song: “The Boy Next Door”

I once heard Bruce Springsteen say that teachers were too busy trying to put you in your place as opposed to helping you find your place in life. That has resonated with me even more so over the past few years since I became an active song writer and singer. Music has a mystical way of helping people communicate and understand each other better as lyrics are now often recited in the class room. It helps teachers relate better to there students. I’ve had one teacher actually recite one Springsteen lyric, God have mercy on the man who doubts what he is sure of. Teachers inspire song writers. Song writers inspire students. And students inspire teachers. In other words, with music, we all win when everybody wins.

Emma Young

Westport High School, Westport, MA | Song: “Pirate”

Music in schools is incredibly important because it’s an outlet for students who don’t participate in sports or need something creative to do during the school day that they don’t get from art classes. Music is also a break from the academics of school like writing essays or doing math that many tend to zone out in. Music is something that everyone can relate to. It’s been proven that it helps with focus and learning other classes so even students who don’t enjoy reading music, singing in chorus, or playing an instrument, can at least refocus their minds before the next period.  I’ve seen our group in the music department become a family and it’d be wonderful if that could grow with more members, events, and opportunity for our group.

Samantha Young

Masconomet Regional High School in Topsfield, MA | Song: “Child’s Play”

I can’t even know where to begin to express my support for music programs in schools. I am a part of the band and chorus as well as the student-run acapella group at my school. Being active in these programs has shaped me into the musician I am today. Having played in the school band for the past 9 years, I have a deep understanding of what it means to be a part of a community like this. Band forces you to come together to play music with people you never thought you would interact with– it forces you to come to know people you may think you understand, but you really don’t. Hell, I met my best friend in the entire world through band, when we were thrown together in adjoining chairs on the first day of 8th grade band, and the rest is history. I think a strong music program is important in school because it allows students to meet others with a similar interest and make friends, yet brings diversity because of the wide spectrum of kids who like music.

MusicMatters Past Winners:

In July 2013 six lucky high school students from Ipswich got to perform the finale with the
Mighty Mighty Bosstones at the Outside the Box Festival on Boston Common in front of 40,000 people.


Kingsley Flood won the 2011 MusicMatters contest and opened for Augustana at the Salem Five MusicMatters Festival at Stoneham Town Day.

Music Matters_KingsleyFlood

Here Kingsley Flood performs their hit, “I Don’t Wanna Go Home” live in the River Music Hall:

The MusicMatters program is presented by Salem Five.
Where Better Banking Starts with Listening.