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The HH Music Grant

Giovanna Costa
A group of HH music students and Mr. Masters

Two teachers are making some big changes to the music department.

Choir director Mr. Charlie Masters and band director Ms. Erica Westcott are two of the newest teachers at Hatboro-Horsham. Earlier this year, the two of them came up with the idea to refurbish the piano lab room into a high-tech studio complete with 88-key keyboards, guitars, drums, basses and digital audio workstations. They pitched this idea to the Hatboro-Horsham Education Foundation, and they applied for an HHEF Innovative Learning Grant, which awards money to the applicants whose idea they believe will most impact students’ educations.

“They awarded us $10,000. One of the board members was a member of Hatboro Elm Street, which is a 501 c3 non-profit in Hatboro. They give out money for really great causes. They were able to find the other $15,000,” Mr. Masters said.

Both teachers have been working hard to give students opportunities they haven’t had before. Many students have taken an interest in producing music. “Our hope and our focus is to modernize our music department and course offerings, but we needed the equipment for it first. Things that would let us digitally produce music and record it which we’re not able to do now, hopefully drawing in new people who might not have a background in choir, orchestra, or band, but who still want to pursue music in a more modernized setting,” Mrs. Westcott said.

“We’re going to buy drum sets, bass guitars, [and] keyboards, basically putting together a rock band and showcasing students in a new setting. It’s fun, it’s modern [and] it’s contemporary,” Mr. Masters added.

This new addition to the music wing isn’t all they’ve been working on. Both teachers have been working on improving their respective ensembles and using HHEF grant money to do it.

Mr. Masters joined Hatboro-Horsham during the 2021-2022 school year. Having been the fourth choir director in four years, Mr. Masters worked hard to build a relationship with his students: “That was kind of a challenge within itself. Here’s another person we’re asking musicians to trust and get used to. I was really focused on being a consistent resource for the students musically and emotionally.”

He aims to give them opportunities to enhance their musical experiences. “We’re really fortunate because we won the Black History Month grant last year where we brought in Brian Majors.” At that event, the students were able to perform alongside this solo artist and watch him perform solo at the concert.

“This year we brought in Michelle Johnson. These are world-class performers we’re bringing in here. In addition to the HHEF high impact grant, we were awarded the Black History Month Grant for next year as well.”

In addition to the Black History Month concert, Mr. Master’s students have had chances to perform in their community. The Madrigals, an auditioned ensemble, sang at both the Hatboro and Horsham Rotary earlier in the year. They also traveled to Keith Valley and the elementary schools and caroled throughout them for the day. The Madrigals also sang the Star-Spangled Banner during the opening of the Miracle Field in Horsham, a park that will be made specifically for those with disabilities.

Next door, Mrs. Westcott has been working with the Hatboro-Horsham Concert Band students to help them improve. “We just had Dr. Brunner, a band director at Temple, [come] to help direct the students. We also took a trip to West Chester and worked with the directors there to help the students improve and give them a new perspective, which I think they really enjoyed.”

Both teachers have big dreams for the music department’s future, and it’s clear that they’ve been working hard to achieve those goals. “Things are going in the right direction. Mrs. Westcott and I are passionate about the music department as a whole. We really work together and encourage the band kids to sing and the choir kids to play instruments. We envision a lot more kids coming in the next few years. Over 200 elementary schoolers were on stage at All-Band night. We’re starting the process of scheduling music during the academic day to give kids more access and encourage them to join the program,” Mr. Masters said.

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Giovanna Costa
Giovanna Costa, Staff Reporter
What is a favorite hobby of yoursSnowboarding What do you look forward to working with The Hat Chat: Getting to learn about new subjects and go out into the community. What college do you want to go to: University of New Haven What's an interesting fact about yourself: I play around 7-8 instruments, and I speak português fluently.

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