What a special holiday performance on Dec. 10 by the Penn State Altoona jazz band we were treated to-literally treated, as the performance was free.
The student musicians, under the talented direction of professor, band director, teacher and musician Kent Martin, performed an enjoyable, upbeat holiday concert of a caliber that could have rivaled any jazz band performance on any college campus.
Undersupported and all too often undervalued, music and arts programs - especially through education venues - do not get the financial support and attention they deserve. Students who participate in these programs refine a musical skill, learn to work as part of a team, improve self-confidence and get a real boost in self-esteem.
Our local leaders and teachers of these arts and music programs always go above the call of duty volunteering time beyond paid hours, to ensure students can put on a program to be proud of and that the audience will be treated to an enjoyable performance.
Music budgets in education get cut every year and do not get funding support or attention like many school sports programs.
Yet dedicated local music teachers like Kent Martin continue to work beyond their job requirements to ensure students have the chance to create and perform in top quality concerts.
I encourage university officials, our Altoona Area School District school board and local political officials to be creative in finding ways to keep music and arts programs in their budgets.
I hope that students continue to challenge themselves by exploring the world of art and music. And to our community, please make it a point to attend local concerts and art events put on by our students.
Not only will you be pleasantly surprised at our local talent, but our attending and supporting these events is the best way to keep the arts alive in education.