North Penn class rocks in preparation for performance


Frankie Gallagher

CMT Class of 2023 before getting started for practice.

North Penn is no stranger to talented performance groups. The North Penn Marching Knights have placed 3rd at Nationals, the chorus program is made up of over 150 students, some of whom placed in a nationally ranked group, and the theater program was voted best show last year at the P.A. Thespian State Conference. However, one group continuously goes unrecognized and is made up of some of the most talented performers at North Penn High School. Those performers are those enrolled in CMT. 

CMT stands for Contemporary Music Theory. In this class, students meet every day and often learn pieces on the modern side of music, such as rock or pop songs. They do pay tribute to some classic songs but mainly stick to the latest hits. The class sizes range each year and are usually made up of 17 students that showcase musical excellence. The class has only seen one teacher in its 18 years, and that is Mr. Daniel Tumolo. 

“Well I started here in 1999, and CMT started 5 years into my time here. So CMT has been going on for 18 years,” Tumolo stated.

Tumolo has seen his fair share of ups and downs when it comes to this group. Depending on what the school asks of them, they need to have a performance set by the 3rd week of school. Meeting for 45 minutes every school day (and it being 7:40 A.M.) gives its challenges to focus during rehearsal.

“That was a difficult challenge. The kids really did well with that, although two of the kids were in the class last year and were used to things like this. But that aside, everyone else did really well and they all banded together to get the job done. It was especially impressive because there was very little input from me. It was great,” Tumolo elaborated.

Although the class is passionately learning about contemporary music, it has seen some grim years in its time. Along with some other classes, CMT has been on the brink of being cut out of North Penn’s musical program. It was cut during the 2008 financial crisis that caused all public school funding to plunge.

“In the 2008 recession, there were only a handful of kids that signed up. Due to budget cuts, the class was cut. However, a student at the time met with the principal, Mr. Bert Hynes at the time, put a petition together, and got a ton of signatures. So Mr. Hynes took the case to the school board and presented an argument that would get CMT reinstated. We did loosen the requirements so that more students would sign up for it which secured the class for the following years,” Tumolo informed.

Despite the class getting cut and then reinstated, CMT has continued to grow popular among the North Penn musical community. Students described it as “a garage band as a class” for when they get to work on pieces for performances.

“I chose CMT so that I would be able to write in lines of different instrumentations with songs that wouldn’t normally have my instruments in it, just in case if I would ever need to do that in the future. I normally play the saxophone but at our latest performance I sang alto,” senior Holly Kennedy explained.

Students who take this class are expected to be able to do one of two things: sing or play an instrument. Some students, such as Kennedy, are able to do both and will often switch from singing to playing during performances. Students must have strict discipline in both these forms of art for their talent to be correctly displayed.

“I play the french horn, bass, and piano. I also sing. I feel the most comfortable on French horn because it is what I’ve been practicing the longest, but I mostly play bass in this class. I’ve been playing instruments since 4th grade,” all-national instrumentalist Michele Schwartz said.

CMT’s latest performance was at the North Penn High School’s homecoming pep rally, where they opened the ceremony before the seniors of the school ran the rally. That gave the class of 2022-2023 just 3 weeks to prepare the single song they performed. 

“It definitely helps with nerves before performing and because we are such a cohesive unit, we are able to really accomplish a lot in such a short amount of time,” Schwartz added.

All North Penn programs have their traditions, whether it be concerts, ceremonies, or other forms of showcasing their pride in their students, CMT has a way of its own.

“Every Friday before the senior prom, we have our own spring concert in the Audion of North Penn and unlike the winter concert where we only do a restricted set, this is the opportunity for the students in this class to leave everything they have on the stage. They can showcase their talents in the songs they choose for themselves and help each other by singing backup or playing an instrument. This concert also has more variety in styles of the songs,” Tumolo announced. 

As Tumolo said, CMT will be featured at both the winter and spring concerts at North Penn. These students will prepare multiple songs, some of which you will have probably heard over the radio. Students learn teamwork and musical comprehension to perform these more challenging pieces and under a fast deadline. There is no doubt that the jaw-dropping talent that this group provides will shine during these concerts.