Banding Together

United in harmony, more students are flocking to New Milford's music programs than ever before.

Reannah Sanglay, Writer

Music seems to be becoming more of a prominent staple in New Milford High School. Currently, about one-third of students are involved in band, orchestra, or some sort of music programs like marching band, concert band, or even chorus. With the growing population of students interested in these programs, it is fair to ask: what accounts for this fresh new band culture seen in New Milford today?

“A lot of recruitment happens between middle school and high school. We even perform at the elementary school to get them excited. Music is one of those things that you can’t just all of the sudden be good at. You have to work hard. It all starts there,” Mrs. Heidi Haderthauer, director of the band programs at both the high school and middle school explains.


Haderthauer has been in New Milford for fifteen years, eight of which in the high school. She believes that a student’s years before high school play a pivotal role in their musical career. Because of this, she typically has her students for seven years which accounts for consistency. 



She recalls, “when I first got here, the program had been going through a lot of transition. There was a lot of change in directors, which made it difficult to keep consistency. I’ve been here for fifteen years, building the numbers up in both the middle school and the high school, and a lot of that is due to the consistency with rules and helping [students] see that they are growing, that they are evolving, and that they are improving. Most of all, I want them to see that they are accomplishing something.”

There are about fifty-two students participating in the New Milford concert band this year. At the middle school, there are about sixty-five. Between the band, orchestra, and chorus, Haderthauer reports that 40% of the middle school’s student body is in the music program and that this number is only bound to grow. 


“We now have two bands. At the middle school level, we have a sixth-grade band called the Jr. Band and a seventh-grade band called the Senior Band. We have two bands! Our numbers are growing. Just imagine what will happen when we combine these numbers with the numbers we have here at the high school. Let me illustrate: Every year we perform at a festival, and when we go, it takes about 200 students out of the school. The school only has around 450 students. We’re very proud that we have this many students involved in music.”


When asked if students typically quit band in the middle of their high school careers, Haderthauer answered, “It’s very rare. It’s the one place you can express yourself without speaking. I know for myself that band was where I felt like I belonged, and I was a family member, so it’s really just how people are connected. We have a ‘band family’ here – We have dinner together, sometimes we have breakfast together, we celebrate ‘Bandmas’ and ‘Bandoween’. We do a lot of stuff to bring us together because the group that is tight-knit and together all the time is the group that is going to play together and be better all the time. We’re a family.”


Rhizamel Dabu, a senior in New Milford High School, is an avid member of both band and chorus, beginning her musical journey at as young as eight years old. She, along with her peers, agrees that the programs are alive and thriving.


“Some of my closest friends are in band as well. It really is a community, and I’m so happy to see that it’s growing more and more every year,” states Dabu. “It’s true. I’m seeing more and more people becoming more involved with band and other music departments now than I have in my four years of being in high school…and I’ve been doing this for years.” 


Haderthauer adds, “there has always been a strong desire for music in New Milford. Music holds people together. You don’t have to speak the language that we speak in school. You don’t have to speak English. You can speak any language…music is its own language so it’s pretty incredible that everyone can communicate together whether they’re shy, or they speak Spanish,  or they’ve never been in this country before. Music is the one thing that combines everyone together. It makes me happy seeing my students taking advantage of that.”