Concert Brings History of Music to Life for Ninth Grade Center Students

It’s easy these days for most students to listen to music on their phones (or a friend’s) just about any time they’d like. But it isn’t always possible for students to listen to live music – much less music performed by well-trained professionals with a deep investment in the history of the art.

That’s why Ben Davis Ninth Grade Center Social Studies Teacher Amanda Cowgill became so interested in bringing the group Hot Horns to her students for a concert. She was able to do that in February, thanks to a grant from the Wayne Township Education Foundation.

“We wanted to fully explore our fine arts theme by including this one of a kind opportunity for our students,” Miss Cowgill said. She teaches in the Ninth Grade Center’s Imagination Academy, which focuses on music, art and dance.

“Many of our students are interested in music,” Miss Cowgill said. “Some sing or play instruments and others listen to music or create their own beats. It’s a popular hobby among our students. While music is easy to access, live music played by professionals is not as easy for students to witness.”

Hot Horns is described as a vibrant, award winning, internationally acclaimed, professional touring ensemble. The ensemble regularly travels through the U.S., presenting interactive educational concerts and master classes in concert halls, theaters, primary and secondary schools, and universities. The group has performed various genres of music for thousands of students in schools throughout the country.

Miss Cowgill pointed to research showing that live music, especially urban live music, can enhance a sense of belonging and create connections between people across age and gender. “Furthermore,” she said, “live music experiences can help people share cultural ideas and foster creativity.”

The Hot Horns “Pop to Rock” concert did not disappoint. The Imagination Team’s 180 students and 10 teachers gathered for the event in the Chapel Hill 7th & 8th Grade Center auditorium the afternoon Friday, February 17. Students were able to make a request from a list of songs; they chose “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars, which was a big hit. Miss Cowgill said the students had a great time listening, clapping, and learning about some new instruments and types of music. The students were also delighted to learn that the ensemble’s drummer, Andrew Howard, is a Ben Davis High School graduate.

“These performers were really good,” said one student. “I liked how they could play together. You could tell they could feel the music and it’s something they’re passionate about because of how they played.” Another student summed it up this way: “I would rank them 10 out of 10. It was a beautiful experience hearing the new instruments. I don’t usually get the opportunity to listen to instruments like that.”

The Wayne Township Education Foundation (WTEF) provides community leadership to enrich, engage, and stimulate teaching and learning in the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township. WTEF accomplishes this by supporting school programs and resources, while recognizing excellence among students and staff. To learn more about WTEF, call 317-988-7966, visit, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter @WayneTwpEdFound.