Rah! Rah! Rally!

Cohoes Marching Band

Kay Vallee leads student members of the Cohoes Marching Band at a rally in March. Photo by El-Wise Noisette.

Live, from Spindle City, comes the Cohoes Marching Band! They’ll be at the NYSUT rally for education on June 8 with bass drums, clarinets, piccolos, trumpets, saxophones and a joyful mishmash of music.

They have a lot of reason to be turning up the volume at the rally, as they  join the thousands clamoring for change for public education. Their story makes its way across the state in school band rooms everywhere, repeating itself like a stutter.

Cuts, cuts, cuts.

Band director Kay Vallee, a member of the Cohoes Teachers Association, used to have five part-time staff instructors helping with the band. Now she is solo. In the past three years, three and a half music positions have been cut within the district.

The elementary band program was eliminated due to budget cuts, and the middle school band program, which used to be conducted during the school day, was moved to a time before the school day. Without early morning busing, students began dropping out.

“We have no feeder program,” said Vallee.

Cohoes is located on the banks of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers. I love hiking around Peebles Island State Park in Cohoes, where you can see the spectacular confluence of the rivers. The district is about 10 miles north of the city of Albany. I also know it as home to Cohoes Falls, a generous waterfall that is gorgeous and powerful.

It’s an historical city. The original Erie Canal came through the city, and I recently learned that in the 19th century several of the world’s biggest knitting mills were built there. They ran on hydroelectric power from the falls. The name Spindle City comes from the textile industry that once flourished in Cohoes.

Let’s hope the school band keeps flourishing.

From the city’s 1,950 students comes about 40 members of this exuberant marching band. For many years the band has performed in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City. The “Tigers” marching band has also strutted their stuff at school events and many parades, including Flag Day and Memorial Day parades.

Come out and hear them perform and support their cause.

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